What’s more daunting than shooting twin newborns or a rambunctious wedding party of sixteen? How about creating your own website? An online presence can help you find clients, connect with your community, and become a reliable source of information for others.
The first step towards having your own professional website doesn’t have anything to do with the technology. The first, and most important, thing to do is some focused thinking about what you want to accomplish with your site. Here’s how to get started:
1. Identify clear goals.
Pick as many as 3 clear goals that you want to achieve with your site. Limiting the number of goals may be difficult, but it is key for a site that has a clear message. Overall, your goals are meant to drive the audience to a specific action, also called the “Big Orange Button.” What do you want your site to drive people to do, besides simply display your graphic design portfolio.
2. Design for the most valuable audience.
Next think about your ideal audience. Who are they? What do they do? Then, create a look that will speak to them. Beyond the aesthetics of the site, you will need to think about the technical as well. Do you need a responsive site that will change depending on the device they are using? (The answer to this should always be yes). Does your ideal audience browse the web using a phone, tablet, computer, or maybe a mix of all three? How and when will they most likely want to buy your products or service? There are a number of great drag and drop website builders like Wix that take care of all of this for you.
Brainstorm what you want on your website now, and what you may want to have in the future. This is your jumping off point for features you may want to build into your site. This list is a continuing work in process as your ideas and site grow. Revisit the list often and add to it as new ideas come to you. What type of content are you looking to showcase?
4. Prioritize your tasks.
This way they don’t feel as overwhelming and you can celebrate each small win to gain momentum. Take the list you just created and decide what needs to come first and what can wait a bit. How you decide this ties back to your goals and audience as well. If you are looking to sell your work, you may want that ability as one of the first ones you install. Every project, dream and goal can be broken down into smaller and smaller steps or tasks. What should you build first?
5. Set a deadline.
Deadlines can be both your bane and your savior. While they loom over you, they also give you an finish line to shoot for. To be effective certain tasks need to be completed before other tasks, and deadlines help ensure that the pieces are done in the right order. For example if one of your goals is to have clients contact you it is important to have your contact page or form completed before the site gives live. If the purpose of your site is demonstrate a certain skill such as poster design, then you should have a designated landing page devoted to just that. One suggestion is to tie this deadline to other important dates in your life. This gives the deadline more meaning, and more importantly it is a date that you aren’t likely to forget. When will your site be live?
Five steps that help you plan your site before you begin the building phase. Each step strengthened by your work on the previous ones giving you an online presence that speaks to your audience and helps you accomplish your goals. Now go book that shoot with newborn twins. More can be learned about these steps from Janine Warner’s creativeLIVE class, WordPress Galleries and Portfolios.