This may or may not be true for you, but I think it’s safe to say that while nearly all creative entrepreneurs prioritize and see value in social media, many creative entrepreneurs fail to prioritize their websites and even neglect them altogether.
However, here’s the thing. Your website is your most powerful marketing tool! When built strategically, your website will:
- Serve as a 24/7 salesperson for your business
- Attract your ideal customers and repel those who aren’t a good fit for you
- Display your work and products at their best
- Communicate your brand
- Serve as your safe haven on the Internet regardless of algorithm changes
Basically, your website should be at the center of your marketing efforts, and every other marketing tool—including SEO, social media, email marketing, and more—should be driving your ideal customers to your website so they can learn more about you and what you offer.
Now, because I know you don’t want overwhelm to stand between you and having a website that (1) serves your clients well and (2) enables you to meet your business goals, let’s simplify the web development process. Instead of getting lost in the weeds by thinking about all of the things your website could do or the way it could look, in this episode of Priority Pursuit, we’re breaking down the seven things you must have on your website as a creative entrepreneur to convert website visitors into paying customers.
I want to give credit where credit is due. Several of the items we discuss in this episode are inspired from Author and CEO of StoryBrand Donald Miller’s books Marketing Made Simple and Building a Story Brand. If you have not read these books, I highly recommend them. In this podcast episode, we are largely taking Miller’s suggestions and adapting them for creative entrepreneurs.
1. A Brand Position Statement that Clarifies What You Offer & Who & Where You Serve
If you have no idea what a “brand position statement” is, don’t panic. It will take a little time and thought to define yours, but a brand position statement (also commonly referred to as a unique value proposition) is simply a statement that explains what makes your business unique so it can stand out in the marketplace.
You can learn more about how to determine your brand position in “Episode 008: How to Define & Communicate Your Brand Position with Nathan Holritz.” But, put simply, your brand position statement needs to make three things clear:
- What you offer
- Who you serve
- Where you serve (if applicable)
For example, the brand position statement for Priority Pursuit is “a podcast dedicated to helping creative entrepreneurs define, maintain, and pursue both their personal and business priorities.”
This statement shares exactly what’s being offered (a podcast about defining, maintaining, and pursuing both personal and business priorities) and who the podcast serves (creative entrepreneurs).
Need help developing your unique brand position statement? Tune into “Episode 008: How to Define & Communicate Your Brand Position with Nathan Holritz”!
Once you have your unique brand position defined, you want to feature it above the fold of your website. In other words, your brand position statement should be the very first thing website visitors see when they go to your site and should be visible before users have to scroll. In his book Marketing Made Simple, Donald Miller argues that this is the most effective place to include your brand position statement, because it will help your website visitors immediately know what your business is all about and if your products and/or services could be the answer to their problem.
Long story short, placing your brand position statement at the top of your website is going to draw your ideal customers in and encourage them to explore your products, services, and content further.
2. A Step-by-step Booking or Purchase Process
Speaking of Donald Miller, in his book Building a Story Brand: Clarify Your Message So Your Customers Will Listen, Miller argues that our brains are naturally “primitive” and:
- Want to preserve as many calories as possible (meaning they want to think as little as possible)
- Only want to use calories to help us either “survive” or “thrive”
Basically, Miller contends that unless the information we’re consuming is going to help us live or make life better in some way, our brains tend to tune information out. This is why we naturally have such short attention spans.
With this in mind, one of the biggest marketing mistakes you can make according to Miller is “causing [your] customers to burn too many calories in an effort to understand [your] offer.”
To prevent frustration for your website visitors, Miller recommends including a three- to four-step plan on your website that:
- “[Clarifies] how someone can do business with [you]”
- “Remove[s] the sense of risk someone might have if they’re considering investing in [your] products or services”
Basically, you want to include a clear plan of action on your site that walks visitors through how they can work with you and shows value to ease their concerns.
For example, on the wedding photography page of my website, this is the plan I give brides:
- Meet me for coffee to discuss your big day and wedding photos.
- Get comfortable in front of the camera with engagement photos.
- Enjoy your wedding day while every moment is captured!
Essentially, if your website lists a clear, step-by-step plan, your ideal customer will be more likely to inquire and take action before getting distracted or frustrated and leaving your website.
3. A Clear Call to Action
Speaking of taking action, your website also needs to include a clear call to action (CTA). In other words, you need to clearly invite your website visitors to do something. (Hint: Typically, your CTA is related to the first step of your plan.)
Now, maybe it’s the Midwesterner in me, but I think it’s safe to say that most creative entrepreneurs are afraid of coming across as salesy. As a result, many of us hope prospective clients will visit our websites and will just know what to do or will contact us if they’d like to work with us.
While some website visitors may connect the dots, it’s important to remember our attention spans are short. And, if you’re leaving room for uncertainty on your website by not clearly telling prospective customers what they need to do to inquire and work with you, you’re drastically increasing the likelihood that your website visitors will leave your site before inquiring. In other words, without a clear CTA, you’re missing out on business!
To combat this problem, you need to:
1. Determine your CTA.
According to Miller, your CTA needs to be a direct instruction (e.g. Book Now), not passive (e.g. Let’s Chat).
CTA’s you might want to consider include:
- Book Now
- Buy Now
- Inquire Now
- Schedule a Consultation
My CTA for brides is, “Schedule a coffee date!” because this is the first step in the plan I mentioned before.
2. Place strategic CTA buttons throughout your website.
Once you know what your CTA is, you can communicate your CTA and make it stand out by putting your call to action on colored buttons throughout your site that stand out.
Miller recommends making your buttons the same color so that the next step you want customers to take is extra clear. In terms of placement, Miller recommends including CTA buttons:
- In the upper-righthand corner of your website
- Throughout your content
If you need an example, check out my wedding photography page. You can see that the same CTA appears throughout the content on buttons that look the same. This might seem like overkill, but as people look through your website, they will decide to take action at different times. By having CTA buttons throughout your site, you’re enabling them to take their first step whenever they’re ready and without losing their attention.
4. Straightforward Pricing
Before we get into the next thing you must have on your website as a creative entrepreneur, I want to answer an FAQ. Creative entrepreneurs—especially photographers—often ask, “Should I include my prices on my website?” The short answer is YES!
For most creative entrepreneurs, listing prices on your website is crucial because:
- There’s a slim chance website visitors will contact you if your prices aren’t displayed.
- It comes across as shady if you don’t share your prices.
- Website visitors can pre-qualify themselves before contacting you, which helps ensure your leads are warm.
- Sharing your prices is an opportunity to share your value.
Now, while you should definitely include your prices on your website, how you display your prices can differ based on your products, services, or package options and what’s best for your ideal customer.
But, chances are, sharing your prices in one of—or a combination of—four ways will work well for you:
You can display your starting price—your bottom-dollar fee.
This strategy allows potential clients to prequalify themselves and tends to work best for creative entrepreneurs with add-on products or services. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, maybe your basic package starts at $X, but if clients choose to add an album, extra coverage, travel outside of your normal service area, or another feature, the price may increase.
You can also list your range of prices.
This strategy allows prospective clients to see the least to the most they can expect to invest when working with you.
While listing your price range is a great way to communicate your price and value on your website, this strategy doesn’t work well for creative entrepreneurs with large price ranges. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer and only charge $1,000 for elopement photography but your largest wedding package is $10,000, you have a huge price range. Listing “Wedding photography collections range from $1,000 to $10,000” isn’t a good idea, because this range doesn’t give website visitors much clarity into what they can expect to invest.
Another option is to list the average price that your clients spend with you.
Listing your average price is often a great way to share your prices, because this tactic gives potential customers a very clear look at what your fee will be while setting the expectation that their investment could be a little more or a little less.
If you have specific prices for your products or services, you can share specific pricing.
With this tactic, website visitors will appreciate how clearly your pricing is listed and that there won’t be any surprises.
That said, this strategy doesn’t work well for all creative entrepreneurs. Depending on what you offer, several factors might influence a client’s final price. So, it might be misleading to list exact prices on your website.
A Combo Method
Like I mentioned before, you can use a combination of these price sharing methods. For instance, on my wedding photography page, I share both the starting and average price for wedding photography packages with a statement that simply says, “Wedding photography packages begin at $X. The average VRP bride and groom invest $X into their wedding photography when they purchase 10 hours of wedding-day photo coverage and a 40-page, 10×10 heirloom wedding album.”
This gives prospective couples a good idea of what they’ll spend when they work with me and sets the expectation that they will likely want to purchase a 10×10 album.
After couples inquire, I then send them a hidden pricing page that further breaks down packages and allows us to have a more detailed conversation and see the value of my work.
5. Clear Offer Details
Chances are, when a prospective client is considering your products or services, he or she will likely be comparing what you offer with three to five other similar products or services.
Your prospective customer will likely compare quality, prices, reviews, and specific offer details (what’s included). With this in mind, one of the most effective ways to convert your website visitors into paying customers is to include itemized lists of what your products or services include. This conveys value, gives potential customers clarity, and let’s potential clients know exactly what they’ll receive when they invest in your services.
To give you an idea of what I mean, here’s the list that’s featured on my wedding photography page:
“As a VRP couple, you’ll receive . . .
- A complimentary 90-minute engagement session
- A minimum of 800 photos from your wedding day
- Wedding day photo coverage by a lead and second shooter
- A flash drive with all edited images from your wedding day
- An online gallery with all edited images that you can easily share with friends and family
- A print release for all edited images, meaning you can print as many photos as you like wherever you like
- Social sharing rights, meaning you can share your images on social media watermark free
- An heirloom wedding album
- Wedding day timeline design assistance to make sure you have plenty of time for wedding photos and to help you and your guests enjoy your wedding day by having a fluid timeline
- Travel within 60 miles of Lafayette, Indiana (I’m more than happy to travel further! A small travel fee will apply.)”
Again, adding this kind of clarity to your website is an easy way to help potential customers see your value and know what they can expect when they work with or buy from you.
6. Client Testimonials
Believe it or not, in a world full of email marketing and targeted social media ads, word of mouth is still the most powerful form of advertising! In fact, 92% of people say they trust word of mouth and social proof more than any other marketing tactic.
With this in mind, I have good news for you, friend! You can think of online reviews and word of mouth as one and the same, because 88% of consumers say that they “trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.”
While there’s a very good chance that your prospective customers will check out your reviews on Google, Facebook, and other sites, you can also add customer testimonials directly to your website.
Adding reviews and testimonials to your site is a great way to:
- Show you have authority and know what you’re doing
- Let your clients brag about you so you don’t come across as cocky or insincere talking about yourself
- Build trust with prospective clients
So, be sure to add customer testimonials to your site!
7. Your Personality!
I can’t speak for all industries, but as a photographer, I know that there are A LOT of other photographers out there. There’s a lot of competition, and your industry may be the same way.
Now, I love that there are so many photographers out there, because this makes finding community within the industry easy. However, the saturated market can make it hard to stand out. And, in order to succeed in a saturated market, you have to figure out a way to shine.
Your products or services can absolutely help you with this, but because there are likely a lot of other fantastic individuals out there offering similar products or services, your products or services likely won’t be enough to set you apart.
So, how do you stand out among your competitors?
It’s simple actually. The secret is you and who you are!
As much as your prospective customers are looking for a product or service to solve their problem, we’re all always looking for human connection. With this in mind, you need to include some of your personality and who you are on your website (as well as in your other marketing tactics)!
This might include:
- Incorporating your brand topics
- Sharing your “why”
- Introducing your audience to your family
- Talking about your pets (I talk about my goldendoodle, Hattie, all the time!)
- Sharing your likes and dislikes
- Telling website visitors what you do in your free time
- Using a tone throughout your site that reflects how you communicate with your clients in person
- Or, including any other information that makes you seem like a real person
If you need a little inspiration, be sure to check out “Episode 007: How to Develop & Communicate Your Brand as a Creative Entrepreneur”!
In addition to helping you stand out in your market, adding your personality to your website can also help filter leads. When your personality is clearly communicated on your site, prospective clients can determine if they’ll connect with you before they even contact you.
Depending on the service you offer, this will save you tons of time when it comes to emails, phone calls, and consultations, because by the time conversations get started, there’s a very good chance that those who contact you are already sold on working with you. So, let your personality shine on your website!
Ready to update your website?!
Whether your website needs a quick refresh or it’s time for a new site, I know just the thought of working on your website can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re making updates yourself.
However, rather than getting stuck on design or comparing your website to other people or business’s sites, I want to encourage you to do nothing more than make sure your website includes these seven things. Because, these suggestions are PROVEN to work and deliver RESULTS.
If you’re ready for your website to do more for your business, make sure your website includes the seven items we just discussed.
And, photographers, if you’d like a few more website tips and tricks just for you, be sure to check out “Eights Things Every Photographer’s Website Needs to Convert Visitors into Clients.”
Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode
- Marketing Made Simple by Donald Miller
- Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller
- “Episode 008: How to Define & Communicate Your Brand Position with Nathan Holritz”
- Victoria Rayburn Photography Wedding Photography Page
- Victoria Rayburn Photography Pricing Page
- “Episode 007: How to Develop & Communicate Your Brand as a Creative Entrepreneur”
- “Eights Things Every Photographer’s Website Needs to Convert Visitors into Clients”
- Receive 50% Off Your First Order with Photographer’s Edit
- Join the Priority Pursuit Facebook Community
- Follow or DM Victoria on Instagram