We’ve been doing a lot of work on getting blog websites up for our clients recently and I keep repeating myself on this so I’ll share my thoughts here. Most people think if they are going to have blog website, the blog will be the home page and there isn’t any need for a home page like you have on a regular html website. I HUGELY disagree! Ok, I’ll qualify that. If you really just want to create a conversation and never want to sell anything, then have at it with the blog being the home page for the site….HOWEVER, if you intend to sell a service, product etc… on a website built on a blog platform, then I suggest you reconsider creating a separate home page.
Why am I all up in your face about this? As usual, it’s about building trust with your potential clients. Think about it this way. If you do your SEO, partner with people who link back and do all the important things to drive traffic to your website, you will start attracting people to yourdomain.com who only know that you have a website with something they are interested in. If they land on your blog first, well then that’s what they think you have to offer them…free information. That’s great! Um, except, hold on. You want to sell them something eventually right? By looking at a blog, they don’t know that. They don’t even know why you have the blog. They just know you’re sharing information and are building a community around your topic.
So, what will they think when all of a sudden you say something about a product or service you offer…try to sell them something? First they will be surprised…and not in a good way. They signed up for information, now you want to sell them something? That’s not cool! For some people it can feel like a bait and switch. Hmmm….would you trust someone who pulled that kind of stunt? Would you trust them to help you make serious life changes? I wouldn’t.
Ok, ok, I hear you naysayers out there bringing up the “About Page”. The about page talks about who is “behind” the company and how it functions. Um, they didn’t even know it WAS a company. Some people talk about the author on the About Page. This is good, because it gives some insight into what makes you different than anyone else in your industry. What industry are you in? What kind of service do you offer? Why will people benefit from these services? Those are the kind of questions that are answered on a home page.
So, why do you need a home page? So those who are coming from your affiliate partners, search engines and other random places know WHY your website exists, that you have something to sell, and that it’s going to change their life for the better. Just as with a regular HTML site, you need a place for people to land and quickly determine that they need to know more. Once they decide they need to know more, by all means, share your blog conversation with them and then lead them through your site as you typically would. By giving context, you are being transparent about the purpose of your blog and site. You are building trust.
Still have questions? Still have objections? Let’s hear them. Leave a comment.
Just because your website is on WordPress doesn’t mean it can LOOK like a blog! I know, many coaches are catching on to the fact that it’s easier to maintain and update a blog website, vs. an HTML website. So, you’re switching to WordPress. This isn’t a bad idea. It will make it easier for you to update, add social networking and change as your style changes.
It IS a bad idea to make your blog site actually LOOK like a blog! Ugh! Over and over I’m seeing coaches misuse a blog site. They picked a free theme, installed it themselves and did very little (if any) customization…and it shows!! If you want clients to purchase your services and products, then you want your site to give them a feeling of professionalism. This creates trust immediately and it creates a sense that you know what you are doing.
I was just looking at a coaching blog site the other day and it was awful. The Home page was a regular blog page. It had language about what the business does, but there was no bolding, color or anything to catch my attention visually within it. The navigation bar had small words on it, I barely knew it was there. What do you think that says about the coach when it’s obvious the site just thrown up there. I could go on and on, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll give some tips on what will actually attract clients on these blog sites.
1) Get a business design - There are some really great (and worth the price) custom designs out there that are meant for business. They have a built in home page that almost looks like an HTML page, but is still as easy to update as a blog post.
Check out http://www.ithemes.com for some GREAT themes for under $100. My favorite is the “Architect” theme - http://ithemes.com/purchase/architect/ (click on the theme picture to see how it looks in action).
Another place with some great themes is http://wphacks.com/small-business-premium-wordpress-themes/. There is a lot of variety here.
2) Don’t let your banner overrun the page - A beautiful representative banner is important to selling your sevices, but you want to make sure that there is some content on the screen when people first pull it up. I work on a very small laptop that is about 14.5 inches. WAY too many times, I’ve pulled up a blog site and the banner is the only thing I see. It’s important, but not so important that it takes up half of your space on the page. Words are what people are looking for. They want to know what you do and they want to see that you have a description the moment the page loads.
Large graphics can also take extra time to load and if all they see is a loading graphic, you may lose your visitors before they’ve seen what you have to offer.
3) Have a few easy to spot points - Many of the business themes have a way to pull a few pieces of content and highlight them in a small area on the home page. This is a great opportunity to introduce your business and what it has to offer. Pick 2 or 3 aspects of what you do and talk about what’s possible for your clients if they were to participate in those aspects of your business.
4) Have a space to talk about your overall business - Make sure there is a stand out section that introduces your company. It can be typical home page text that gets people interested and wanting to click through to other places in your site.
5) Make sure your navigation bar is prominent - All too often, I haven’t been able to find where to click in order to get to other areas of a blog site. Make sure it’s easy to find where to click. You don’t want it cluttered up with a bunch of blog stuff, like most popular posts etc… it needs to be part of the design at the top of the page, on top of or under the banner.
6) Make your text stand out - Have a few “Titles” or “headings” that stand out on your home page. You want people to be able to quickly scan and find what they want. Make sure those titles are outcome driven and share what “could be” if people work with you. My coach (Robin Jones of http://www.successbecomesyou.com) is always urging me to create text that is outcome oriented instead of process oriented. Here’s what Robin says about making your copy outcome driven; “Most coaches talk about how coaching works when asked what they do. Nobody cares. Nobody really wants coaching. They want the results they get from coaching, so talk about the results they can achieve.” I urge you to follow his advice. Especially with your titles.
The way most of the business themes are designed, your home page is more like a landing page where you can add more information than usual. You want to quickly get your visitors attention and easily guide them to where they can learn more.
Are you using a premium business WordPress theme for your coaching website? Post the link in the comments so we can see more examples of what’s possible.