Step 1: Choose a platform
There are many options out there to choose from when looking for a platform to build your site on. There are also many things to consider when choosing a platform. Cost, ease of set up, speed, look, etc.
Here is a list of the current Top 5 Website Platforms:
There are also a ton of other lesser known platforms.
I could spend this time explaining the pros and cons of each individual platform, and why or why not I would recommend it. But honestly, I don’t have the time, and neither should you. That is why I made this guide, to make it easy, so you can expedite the process of choosing, and move forward on your website build.
If you are new to the game and setting up your first site (which I have to assume is case because you are looking at this guide), set it up with Shopify, period. Even if you have been building sites forever, Shopify is by far the best option I have ever used.
Shopify’s builder is super easy to learn, your site is out of the box ready to make sales (which is the whole point of doing things online). And, it easily integrates with all of the top apps for marketing, customization, and more.
Also, Shopify is the best value for the money. You get hosting, SSL, and everything all in one, starting at $9.99 a month (with a 14 day free trial). Plus, they have free templates for you to get started that are very modern looking and highly customizable website.
Step 2: Layout your site as a "Conversion Machine"
Next, once you choose a template, you will have a blank canvas and need to layout your site. This process way seem daunting, however, it is very simple when you know the goal ....
And, what is the goal of every website?
To create conversions.
That is why you need to layout your new website to serve that purpose. You need to create a "Conversion Machine".
What do I mean by that?
As we touched on earlier, you want your site to generate conversions. It is not here to look pretty, it is there to accomplish a goal.
What that goal is, is up to you.
And, that is the first step in making your site a conversion machine. You need to decide what the primary goal of you website is going to be.
Are you selling T-Shirts? Then focus on that. “Buy Now!” mother fucker
Are you selling subscriptions to your service? Then “Subscribe Now!” mother fucker.
Are you trying to book appointments? In that case it is slightly different …. “Book Now!” mother fucker.
You get my point?
Whatever your goal may be, you must know it, and design your site to drive customers to complete that goal. Whenever someone visits your website, they should easily understand what you can do for them, and what they need to do to get that service, or product, or appointment, or whatever. You need to make this process as easy as possible for them. This is why you have to put signs everywhere telling them exactly how complete that goal.
These signs directing your visitors on what to do are called “Calls to Action”, Or CTA’s (because I love TLA’s three letter acronyms). These CTA’s should be under every picture, after every description, on every single page, and most of the time on every individual page multiple times.
These CTA's are designed to create conversions, to make you money, to turn your visitors into buyers. And, if you are not turning website visits into conversions, then you are failing your audience and yourself.
Every piece of content, every font choice, every update, needs to be designed to maximize conversions. You need to always be thinking "How can I make this easier for customers to convert?", "What part of this process can I make better?".
Keep it concise. Make it easy to navigate. Make it easy to buy.
People who neglect this philosophy when building a website are selfish. They love themselves too much and don’t care about their customers. The customer wants to be able to find what they want NOW. They don’t want to see any fluff, they don’t want to see you smiling in some $50 suit looking like a picture of a real estate agent on a bus bench. I know you love that outfit, but know one else fucking cares. Snap out of your self-diluted world for a minute and think about others.
Drive them to your website, show them why they should choose your business, make it easy for them to buy, then turn them into repeat buyers and fans.
Do these things and you will be successful, ignore this process and you will fail.
On top of all of this, you are also going to need to establish some credibility. This can be accomplished with "social proof".
What is social proof?
You are a new business, no one has ever heard of you or your products. However, you want these same people, who have no idea who you are, to spend their hard earned money with you, a total stranger.
This poses a problem. How do you convince these complete strangers, in just the few short seconds, to trust and buy from you?
How do you maximize your chances of generating conversions, while quickly alleviating doubt in your prospects mind?
Social proof puts website visitors minds at ease. You show your visitors images they are familiar with, and can quickly recognize. Images that give you credibility, that establish you as an industry authority. Images that simply make them comfortable, and give them the confidence to start a business relationship with you.
Examples of highly persuasive Social Proof include:
Reviews from well known site i.e. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Yelp, etc.
Testimonials from real customers
As seen on "Insert trusted brand here" banners
We partner with brands they already know and trust
Money back guarantees and warranties in general
There are obviously many different ways to show social proof. However, the options above are proven to be highly effective and easy to create. You can use different means if you would like, just ensure the ends are still met.
Social proof is as good as gold when you are a new business. It is an almost magic way to eliminate consumer doubt, and drastically increase conversions. It is a vital component to the high performing conversion machine.
Step 3: Connect your site for tracking, ads, optimization, etc.
Got an awesome website now?
No one fucken cares.
Because, no one but you knows it even exists.
I know it’s sad. You thought all your hard work was done. However my friend, the truth is, the journey is long, and it has just begun ....
Back in the day you used to be able to make a website, put it online, then people would just find it, and you would be rich ....
Ahhhh, the good old days ....
Actually, contrary to popular myth, a time like this never existed. But, for some reason, even today, people believe that "if they build it, they will come”.
This philosophy, I'm sorry to say, is not true. You are not Kevin Costner and this is not Field Of Dreams (90's movie reference, for those of you saying WTF?).
The online marketplace is the most competitive landscape in the world. You not only have to compete with other businesses, but you are also competing with all the other non-business entities vying for your clients attention.
Everyday there are thousands of hopeful entrepreneurs, just like you, making websites with pipe dreams of dominating their industry and building their fortune.
And, guess what?
99.999 percent of them will fail. And you will fail just like the overwhelming majority as well if you think your job stops at creating a great a website.
Your “conversion machine” is powered by prospects. You need people that are interested in your products, visiting your website, if you want to succeed.
These customers won't just show up on your URL by chance. No. To get them there you need to find where the are looking for your products and entice them to visit your site. Then, you to optimize results to ensure your conversion machine always has fuel. This is the only way you can expect to succeed. The only way your “digital ecosystem” (more on that in a different article). can truly flourish.
So, how do you ensure you are giving your new website the shot at success when you are just starting out?
Here is a short list of the must haves. You will discover more as go along, but this will build a strong foundation and lead to a productive start:
Google Search Console
Google My Business
Facebook (Ads manager tracking pixel)
All of your social accounts
Step 4: Market your site
That’s right, you are set up and connected to the accounts needed to track, optimize, and drive traffic. Now, that is exactly what you need to do .... Start driving traffic by marketing you website.
Luckily, marketing your site is very easy, you just post that you have a website on all your social media accounts, then you tell all your friends and family, then boom! You are a huge success!
But, seriously this is what naive business people think is marketing. They think by telling their about their business, that consumers will magically find their products, then word of mouth will travel like wildfire, resulting in a flood of orders and the immediate need for global expansion.
This strategy may seem sound in you warped novices mind. However, in reality, marketing your site solely like this will put you on the fast track to failure.
If you want to succeed, then you will need to market like pro. Marketing is not easy. But, there are basic principles, that if you follow, will lead to success.
Your job as a marketer is to:
Find the people who are looking for you product
Entice them to come to your site with your advertisement
Sell or Salvage those Leads
Convert those visitors and create brand advocates
Soooooo easy. Now that you got that let’s move on to the next step….
Again, just kidding.
Let’s start with the fist item on the list, finding people who are looking for your product.
How do you do this?
The best place to start when trying to figure this out, is to put yourself your customers shoes. Not just any customer. But, your specific customer. A customer who wants your product. And, this is part is very important, a customer that is ready to take action (buy a product, book an appointment, etc.).
To illustrate the ideal customer you are looking for, let’s pretend you own an online skate shoe store, and your goal is to sell skate shoes.
That means you potential customers are in the market for new shoes. Where do you think you should be when those customers start looking?
Just like everyone else in the world, when your customers are looking for something they are going to Google it.
Anytime someone is trying to find anything, a product, a service, information, anything, they google it.
And, the closer people get to buying, the more they Google, and the more specific their Google searches get.
Their search path will look something like this:
When they first begin to search for new skate shoes, they simply Google the search term: "Skate shoes"
The search will get a bit more specific when they decide on a brand, with a search term similar to: "Vans skate shoes"
Then, the search will become more specific when they enter their gender: "Vans Shoes Mens"
Next, they will decided on color, and a style: Black "Vans Old Skool Shoe Mens"
Finally, they get as specific as possible and enter their shoe size in the search: "Black Vans Old Skool Shoe Mens Size 11"
As you can see (and probably know from personal experience), the more detailed the search becomes, the closer they are to actually making a purchase. All of the other searches before the highly detailed search are more browsing or "window shopping". They are still figuring out what they want. When they type in highly specific searches that is the signal they are ready to buy.
That is when you need to show up in Google search. This is going to give you the highest conversion rate per dollar spent on ads, by putting you in front of the customers looking to buy your products now.
How do you show up there?
Paid Google Search Ads. Creating these ads are the first, and most effective step in promoting your site and finding people who are looking for your product. You can sell in other channels, but no one goes on Facebook looking to buy a pair of shoes.
The next step in effectively promoting your website is, enticing customers to click your ads.
When you search a term on Google the results will include:
Shopping ads: Images at the top of the page of products.
Search ads: Below the shopping ads, A text ad with headline and some copy at the top of text results.
Organic results: Below the Search ads, these results show up for free, and are what Google deems as the most relevant to your search.
You will show up in the "Search ads" section. You will be competing with other paid ads and the organic for clicks. There is a lot of competition, so to succeed you will need to stand out.
This is done through the art of advertising.
Just like your website, you need your small ad to be a "conversion machine". You ad need to have effective keywords (keywords that match those used it your customers search), the benefits from buying from you, and of course a kick ass Call To Action (CTA).
Here is an example of a good search ad for the skate shoe store example above:
Vans Old Skool Shoe | Biggest Selection
We Have The Best Prices, Free Shipping, and Free Returns.
Limited Time Sale, Shop Now
Keywords that match those searched
Vans Old Skool Shoe | Biggest Selection
Benefits of buying from you
We Have The Best Prices, Free Shipping, and Free Returns.
Call To Action
Limited Time Sale, Shop Now
This simple ad hits all the main points needed to convert. It builds a sense of urgency with "Limited time sale", and tells that mother fucker to “Shop Now”, not tomorrow…. NOW.
Now that you have succeeded in enticing a customer to click your ad and they have entered your website, you will need to sell them, or salvage the money you spent to drive them there.
In a perfect world your "conversion machine" of a website will sell every visitor. However, this is the real world, and even if you have the highest converting website in the world you would still not sell the majority of your customers on the first visit.
So how do you salvage all of these lost conversions?
By dropping a remarketing pixel.
What is a remarketing pixel?
A remarketing pixel is dropped as soon as a customers enters your website. This pixel stays cached in their browser and enables you to serve them ads as they travel around the internet (you know those ads that follow you around after you look at something online? That’s remarketing.)
Once you install the Google Analytics and Facebook Ads pixels on your site (as outlined in Step 3: Connect your site for tracking, ads, optimization, etc. above) Your website will automatically make "audiences" for all your website visitors.
This will enable you to target each audience with specific ads that run throughout the Google Ad Network and Facebook for cross channel marketing.
A pixel is good if you don't make a sale. But, do know what's even better?
Getting an email address or phone number.
That is why you need a pop up for new clients that enter your website. You might hate them, but guess what? They work. Not only do they work, but if you do it right, they work amazingly well.
If you offer a simple discount in exchange for a potential customers email or phone number, it will pay you back 10X plus. Having this info will enable you to send these customers ads for free (depending on list size and email client you are using), as much as you would like, direct to their inbox.
Having a large email list , and always growing it, is the key to building your business and thriving. There are literally thousands of strategies you can employ when it comes to maximizing email marketing, but the first step is always the same, GET THE EMAIL.
The final step in promotion will be trapping those customers in your “digital ecosystem”. This will include, email marketing, remarketing, social ads, and much more. For now, focus on what we have gone over and you will build a great foundation for success.
Step 5: Keep creating optimizing, and driving
And the beat goes on mother fucker. There is no rest for the wicked. You must, and I stress MUST keep creating, optimizing, and pushing.
I promise you, your site is not going to be performing optimally your first try. In all honesty, it will probably be performing just barely profitable, if that at all.
Luckily, that is a great start. And you will have the foundation in place to track what is happening on your site (so you can see what is working and what isn’t), the ability to optimize and improve those results, and a way salvage all the traffic you drive to your site that does not convert.
This is the beginning of your journey. A way you can break free from "just scraping by". The internet is still the wild west. It is the easiest way to exploit the capitalist system. It is the optimal first step to grow YOUR business. The way that you start earning the money to buy your way out of slavery. To earn that "fuck you money". That money that enables you to make a difference in this world, instead of just wasting your time working on the misguided dreams of others.
Keep hustling, because what else would you be doing with your time?
Live Free Die Well