Your business needs a website. No exceptions.
If you’re going to be even vaguely legitimate, it’s not negotiable. (If you want to know why I think that, read this short article.)
There are tons of free/cheap platforms you can do it on – Weebly, Wix, Squarespace, WordPress. You don’t need to spend a fortune on it, however there are some things I think are absolutely essential to website content. You will expand on these over time and add more as needed – in the meantime here’s a a guide to website content.
Your first website will likely only be a single, static page:
- A page which clearly states: what it is your business offers, where your business is located, if you have opening hours and what they are and how to get in touch with you (email, phone number).
- A few (1-4) pictures which show your current work in their best light.
- Links to any social media accounts you may have.
- Link to sign up to your newsletter (even if you don’t have one yet. Start collecting email addresses from the very first minute your website is online.)
Your next website improvement will have all of the above plus:
- An “about me” page – several studies have shown this is the second most read page on a small business website. This is where you can make an emotional connection with the customer. I got a LOT of orders because people liked knowing that by buying from me, they were helping out “the triplet Mom.”
- A “contact me” page that has a way for them to submit a form online and also asks them to tell you how/where they heard about you.
- Allergen info and disclaimers – this is especially important if you offer gluten free, dairy free (etc).
- More photos – but please, don’t just throw every photo you have on there. They must be current and they must be good quality. No pictures of cakes in boxes! It’s far better to have a few beautiful photos then a ton of crappy ones. Also, your cake skills will improve with time,so update those photos to reflect your current skill and style. Here’s some great classes about taking photos: Food Photography Basics, Product Photography at Home, and Photos with Your Smartphone.
Now we’ve got a solid website, let’s start adding in some good stuff to improve the customer experience:
- Your terms and conditions IN FULL. This is so you can give people a reference to go read rather than hand them a ten page document when they give you a deposit.
- Important info about your product – your flavour range, your price range, how to store the product, where it’s available (if you have outlets).
- Important info about working with you – how far in advance do they need to order? Do they need to pay a deposit? Some of this might repeat from your terms and conditions, but it’s the stuff about how they order from you so that’s important to repeat.
- Testimonials or Press mentions – if people think you’re great, tell everyone about it!
- More photos, now categorised in albums – wedding, cookies, birthday and so on.
Once you’ve got all that in place, you can start adding in things like this (if they are relevant):
- A blog (Here’s an article I wrote about blogging for business.)
- Online ordering of products
- A pop up window inviting them to join your newsletter list with a freebie as an incentive (hint: make it a useful freebie not just something random)
- FAQ – this is a nicer version of important info on how to work with you. It’s like a Top Ten of the questions people as you the most often and the things they’ll look for first.
- Class info if you teach (and a way for them to sign up!)
In this busy digital social media world, we can be deceived into thinking we don’t need a website. Many people started and grew their businesses on Facebook – but in my opinion, that’s not a long term strategy for business success. When you don’t have a storefront, your website IS your storefront, so keep it clean, tidy, and a clear representation of your business. Exactly like a store, make sure you go in and dust things and refresh the look once in a while too! (Get rid of those photos from when your piping was terrible!)
You don’t need to have all the fancy photos which fade in and out, or the music that starts playing when people visit (god no, PLEASE don’t do that!). You need a solid, informative, mobile friendly website that shows the customer what they want and instills in them a feeling of trust that you’ll be able to give them exactly that.