Over the last few weeks I’ve had a few professionals (friends) talk to me about how they’re marketing themselves on the web. What I aim to do here is layout a plan for those that have asked. The goal is to help get them from zero to having a professional online presence and online lead flow.
I’m not an internet guru I’m just a guy who has been driving a lot of leads and business online and I’m going to share what I’ve learned.
Step 1: Google yourself.
What do you find? Something? Nothing? Worse..? If you’re doing business today you’re getting Googled. If you have a particularly common name then there will be a lot of results that have nothing to do with you. But think about what you would do if you were looking into doing business with somebody. First you’d probably google their name. If you got no results you would google their name and company name. Next you might try their job title or job description. Think about it.
If I was looking at working with an “investment broker” named “John Smith” from “Fidelity” in “Boston” I’d search these terms.
You are getting googled, if you’re doing business, period. There aren’t a lot of people with my name so it was fairly easy for me to get control of it online. Regardless of how common your name is you can make some advances.
Step 2: Register your name as a domain name.
Even if you decide that you’re going to use other domain names and sites for business, start here. It is entirely likely that if you have a common name your name is registered. In that case consider some alternatives, use your middle initial, use a designation or a keyword at the end of your name, use a hyphen john-smith.com, johnCsmith.com, john-c-smith.com – john-smith-cfp.com (Certified Financial Planner) – go get your name right now.
- Register.com is the quickest domain name check that I’m aware of. I’ve never purchased a domain from them but I always check availability there first. Once you find a domain that works you need to register it. This should cost you between 6 and $15 dollars per year depending on where you go. You should buy a number of years up front (more on why later).
- Choose a registrar and a hosting company. I like Bluehost.com for several reasons.
- Tech support is awesome, they speak English as a first language and so do I, you can IM with them in an instant they are always there, I have never had a problem go unsolved for very long.
- They use “Simple Scripts” simple scripts frees you from having to know anything to get your website setup (in the next steps that I’m going to walk you through). With Simple Scripts you can literally go live with just a few clicks. Simple Scripts automatically launches a variety of Open Source platforms that are FREE. I will talk more about Open Source for business later.
- I’ve tried a number of hosts and some SUCK. Take 1and1.com for example. I hate (yes I know that is a strong word) this host. They are cheap but their support is clueless and sites there are slllllloooooowwwww. I also use MediaTemple for distressedpro.com because I needed my own server, and finally I’ve heard good things about HostGator though I’ve never used them, a few of my techies like them (I think because they’re cheap).
- Go ahead and register your name as a domain, and if you have one, a company name.
- Alternate domain names: If you don’t have a company, you’re independent and a sole proprietor etc, or maybe you want to do this anyway – register a keyword rich name – boston-investment-advisor.com, rhode-island-video.com, somerville-real-estate-attorney.com. But if you go too long it will be hard to use in print in a lot of places. I have a number of domains for different purposes.
Note: rhode-island-video.com is better for your search marketing efforts than rhodeislandvideo.com, even though it doesn’t look as good.
Step 3: Start assembling your assets.
You are probably going to have to wait, at a minimum, a few hours maybe a day for your domain name to be pointing anywhere. While you have this time and you’re all anxious about getting your website setup go ahead and start compiling your assets. By assets I mean all of the content that you’ve been hiding away from the world. Like what? Anything that you have done in your profession that you have not published and that is good enough for the world to see.
Compile things like:
- Papers or article you’ve written
- Case studies you’ve compiled
- Data or analysis you’ve done on a subject
Whatever, get it all together. It doesn’t have to be ready to go live. Make a folder for ‘Assets’, make some sub-folders that pertain to your categories and dig deep, pull it all together and get it organized.
What if I have no assets?
First off I don’t believe you, look harder, but lets say you don’t – jump to step 4.
Step 4: Start thinking about who your customer or client is. Write it down.
- Write down and describe your perfect client or clients. This isn’t new stuff I’m not making it up I’m just reminding you. “But I just want to make my website” – well you’re going to need to know who you’re talking to. There’s no sense running in half-cocked. Go ahead and describe who your client is and who you want to work with, demographically, physically, whatever. Lay it all out there so you know who this website is talking to.
This is enough for a couple of days work. Probably you won’t want to spend too much time describing your customer or client and you’ll just just start futzing around with your site DON”T do it. You’ll be wasting your time now and in the future while you’re correcting your errors. Once you start thinking about who you’re talking to your approach will change.
This really is enough, so go ahead and get into who you’re going to do business with so you can start your site out right.