If you are just joining us for the Business Takeoff series, I recommend you start right on over here:
Step 1: Intro Post
Step 2: Define Your Style
Step 3: Create Work
Guys, I’m having so much fun with this series. I love your emails! All of these budding event designers will make the industry so rich with talent and education for couples. It’s the coolest.
So far, you’ve figured out your company’s niche aesthetic and put that aesthetic to work with your first inspiration shoots. Now, let’s build a place for all of your awesome work to live. Your website is the door to your world. It’s how you show off your work, explain your story, rope in your soon-to-be-clients, and give that all important first impression.
Websites are scary. They are written in a strange language that only the coolest dudes and chicks can understand. “<a></a>”…huh? I have no clue what that means. Unless those are a new emoji I don’t know about, I want no part of it. Since I’m assuming you don’t know how to write code either, there are a gazillion options for how to get your site designed and working on the web. I’m going to explain my favorites and the pros and cons of each. The back end (aka the nuts and bolts, the code, how your pretty photos end up on a computer screen) of your site will need to be decided on first, so let’s start there.
Options for getting a website:
*disclaimer: I am not a web designer. There are so, so many options for websites out there, these are simply the ones I’m most familiar with.*
- Custom Site: My site is a completely custom site that works on WordPress. My brand designers, Making Brands Happen, sent my brand book to Flosites. Flosites then designed this website from scratch according to inspiration I sent them, my brand pinterst board, and my brand book. A brand book is a summery of the visuals of your brand: the fonts, colors, logos, and textures. Pros: your web designer will design a site just for you that looks like no one else’s, you have complete control over every graphic/font/color/background, the sky is the limit when it comes to creativity. Cons: Most expensive option. A great web designer can run you a few thousand bucks. Takes the most time. This site took about six months to design, code (special language that computers understand), and populate (me uploading all of the photos of my work and copy).
- Squarespace: This is a very simple drag and drop platform where you can essentially design your own website using their templates. They have beautiful, contemporary options that can be easily customized to fit your needs. You could even hire a designer that specializes in Squarespace sites if you don’t want to do it yourself. Pros: Modern, contemporary pre-made templates, affordable monthly price, good customer service. Cons: takes time to figure it out, might be hard to make a decision on templates without a second opinion.
- WordPress.org: Similar to Squarespace, WordPress has templates you can either find for free or for purchase. Then, you fill them with your own images and copy. Pros: free templates available, inexpensive, fully customizable if you know how to code. Cons: need coding knowledge to make simple changes to templates,
This is the hardest part. Have you ever tried to write a bio? It’s impossible. Whatever I write always sounds too braggy or too humble. It’s getting that sweet spot of boasting of your accomplishments, telling your story, and not sounding cocky that’s difficult. I’m a serial reviser. Meaning, the copy is always different on my website because I keep rewriting it. In that process, here is what I’ve learned:
- Do not plagiarize: Recently, just by following links to other designer’s awesome work from wedding blogs, I came across three other companies that plagiarized my services descriptions word for word. You are your own person. You are enough! The words to describe what you do should come from your brain, not someone else’s. I promise that what you write will be perfect for your brand and your vision.
- Write as you speak: Just write as you would talk. Anything else reads as fake and contrived. Do you curse a lot in real life? Then curse on your site. Don’t pretend to be someone else on your website in fear that other’s won’t like you. Use the words on your site that you use in daily conversation. It’s easier, will read more natural, and helps readers feel like they already know you.
- Proofread: Ok, this part is a chore. Have your friend, partner, spouse, proofread what you wrote for grammar and spelling errors.
- Key Words: Remember those top ten words you wrote down? Sprinkle them throughout your writing.
- Finishing touches: It’s not only the paragraphs of descriptions of your services and about page that need branded copy. Pay close attention to the wording on your contact form and anywhere else there is text on your site. Should it be funny? Quirky? Serious? Formal? Make that choice depending on your brand.
When I was planning my own wedding in 2009, way before I started in this industry, my biggest pet peeve was companies that did not list their starting prices on their website. Typically, this is what would happen: I would fall in love with someone that didn’t list prices, I email them, they email back with pricing that’s way over my budget, I got sad. Many wedding creatives will disagree with me when I say PLEASE PUT YOUR STARTING PRICES ON YOUR WEBSITE. As a consumer, I felt like I was being sold to when the pricing wasn’t listed. As a business owner, it’s transparent to list a starting price. Transparency equals trust. Trust equals booked clients. Being secret about your pricing is not doing anyone favors. It’s giving you more work to respond to inquiries from couples who can’t afford you, makes clients with a lower budget sad that they can’t afford you, and wastes the couple’s time if they have to email a million people just to get a price.
Wedding design is tricky because each client’s bill will be different depending on what types of decor they want. List a price range, instead of a starting price, so they can start to gauge how much it might cost to work with you.
Of course, every one of my opinions has exceptions. One is if your dream clients are having million dollar weddings. If those are your people, they are used to making purchases without seeing the cost. It doesn’t matter because they can afford you no matter what. Another exception is if your services are truly, completely, customizable. Meaning, you’ll design something that costs $500 or $50,000.
With these three main points of your online presence, I hope that you create a website that serves your purpose and tells your story. Have you had any struggles with website, copy, or listing pricing? Next week we’ll be talking about networking, submitting, and working with other creatives.