Part 9. Own your online presence
When you’re ready, it is time to start working with your website. I love the product that Squarespace offers and recommend it without reservations for anyone needing a simple solution to building a website. I no longer use this for my own brand, as I prefer using Teachable to host my website and my courses. If you need merely a web presence, go with Squarespace. If you want your own shop, use one of the e-commerce websites like BigCartel or Shopify. For the purpose of this guide, your "website" is whatever platform you pay for and then populate with your own content. It is not free social media. It is yours.
If you followed along so far you’ve reserved your unique business domain ahead of time. This domain will connect with your website so that people can find your business easily.
In reality, it will take days to sit down and set up your website and connect it to your domain.
It doesn’t make sense to sit and start this task without first creating your key information and high quality images that reflect your business and brand. All along I have said that this process takes time. It took me a year of making images and content before I was ready to commit to a paid website. It was worth the wait for me! You should get organized before opening any free trial account, because you don’t want to pay for anything that is not complete and ready to go.
You do not need to be a trained photographer or even have a lick of marketing experience to master a few simple tricks for high quality photos and content for your website. Your goal is to build a library of images and content that you publish on your own website and push to social media.
With your brand identity in mind, here is how you capture the essence of your artistry in order establish your paper flowers as a credible business.
To set up for high quality images to put on your website:
- Orient your photography set up so that it is illuminated by a window on the north side of your home, this provides soft light.
- Set up the background for your images. This should reflect consistent styling.
- Use a tripod and a shutter delay (I use two second delay) to avoid any shake.
- Experiment with depth of field and how much of your image is in focus. You want your details to always be in focus. Depending on what you want to highlight is how you determine what should be in focus.
To prepare high quality content to put on your website:
- Gather top images and what you want the page to say.
- Write this out and proof and perfect. Get an editor to look it over. They should be ruthless.
- You want to copy and paste your information into the template of the website you are making, not write on the fly.
- You will need to resize your images for the web. Squarespace has a built in image editor so any huge high resolution beauties can easily be trimmed up so your page loads faster. Teachable does not.
- On every single picture you MUST put your business name and what it is for search engine purposes. I write Flower and Jane Paper Flowers DIY Online Learning on all my images.
So, now that you have your images and content together, open up your website builder of choice, pick a template, and start plugging things in. This ideally will take you several days, I would budget ten days, and spend about four hours a day on it.
The reason you want to go slowly is every day when you pause, your brain will start to think about how to make it better. So go slow! Also, when you achieve a level of "Whoa, I like this website!" and then decide to change it up (in a year or so), duplicate it! That way you can always go back to the last best version of your website. I have built beautiful websites and just as quickly destroyed them, so heed this advice.
Don’t forget the essentials: you need an “about” section, a contact form, and a portfolio. Ideally your website hosts your own store, links to an Etsy store, links to a gallery or art rep, an online school, events, or the like! In other words, MAKE IT SIMPLE for people to pay for your product or service-put the link and information where it is easily seen and accessed at the top of the page.
One thing I love about Squarespace is that anytime I get stuck, I can quickly and easily search for the answer just by adding Squarespace to my search terms. For example, I might search for “import blog entries squarespace” and the answer I am looking for is usually the first one and in the Squarespace knowledge base. With Teachable, as I pay for the pro plan, I just hop on their live chat and ask for help. Every time. All web services function this way. This is why they cost money.
Now, you have an idea of how to launch.
You have a repertoire of flowers you can do well, and an organized space to make, photograph, and ship your flowers.
You have a business name. You are registered for tax purposes. You have a business bank account.
You have an invoice system, an inventory, and you are tracking expenses.
You have a logo. You have a brand identity. Your pictures reflect your customer and your artistry.
You have social media accounts ready to roll (Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, you decide).
You have a website with high quality images and content that is searchable and a way for people to contact you using your branded email.
So what do you do now?