Project: Website (Re)launch – Ms. Guery


Been gone for a minute, now I’m back with the jumpoff relaunch.

So I learned how to create custom themes during my #100DaysofCode challenge, and I decided to put my new skills to use by redoing my website.

Custom WordPress Development project + website launch for @msguery

For my last two themes, I used the Genesis Framework (Workstation + Twenty Seven Pro) so I wanted to keep the same minimalist style. And what you see here is the final-ish product.

Website Goals

I got carried away by adding a whole bunch of features I didn’t need last time when all I wanted to do was share resources and put myself out there. So I used a few of this designer’s tips and website goals for 2018 so I can stay on track and focus on the important things.

I used my starter theme I created as a base, then I worked on:

Making it secure
Siteground fortunately has a free SSL certificate with Let’s Encrypt which was super easy to set up. (Go from http:// to https:// to get that “Secure” connection)

Related: 6 Simple Things That Can Help You Secure Your Online Business, Web Hosting Providers with Let’s Encrypt Support (Let’s Encrypt)

Faster load time
I didn’t check the speed before this update, but the last year it took longer than 5 seconds to load. #nobueno

So after the update I tried pingdom and GT Metrix to check my website speed and performance.

screenshot of website speed and performance from pingdom.com

The good thing about using Pingdom is you can download a report so you can know how to improve your site before your next update.

Changes to the site
– bigger font size, darker color text for main content, light colors for icons and buttons
– back to top button (less clicking for longer posts)
– the design looks similar in Firefox, IE, and Chrome
– fixed navigation (easily find what you’re looking for)

Misc
I used this checklist from StayinTech to improve accessibility and user experience, and create a better layout + navigation. Plus, checked for errors with the Theme Check plugin.

Related: Web Accessibility Checklist (WUHCAG), Basic Accessibility Requirements (WordPress)

Site Updates

Home
– to grow email list I added email course sign up form
– added what I do and who I work with, plus links to book with me and look at my portfolio
– read the latest post and share with others

Related: How to Improve Your WordPress Website + Get it Client-Ready

About
I was avoiding this for a while, but I finally created one with the help of my bro. All I have to do is upgrade my selfies to professional pics and I’ll be good!

Blog
I removed the sidebar, cleaned up the categories, made it shareable – add buttons on the right side instead of the bottom of the post, and added freebies to a few related posts.

Portfolio
Still going over this to make it look more organized. (Code talk ahead: created a plugin for my custom post types and portfolio page templates + layout.)

Related: Guide to WordPress Custom Post Types (Sitepoint), How to Create Custom Post Types (WP Beginner)

Misc
Had a resources library for my subscribers but I moved all the freebies to my resources page. All of the freebies and recommended tools to use for your business and blog will be there – no sign up required. Instead of the freebies, I will be creating video tutorials for subscribers. These videos will be about managing + using WordPress and other business tools. Sign up here to get notified.

My services page has been revamped after my lessons learned last year and I added a new service for web designers: WP Development for Designers.

Related: 4 ways remote designers and devs can collaborate better (Invision App),
How designers can work better with developers (Invision App), 4 ways to ensure your developer collaboration goes smoothly (Erin Flynn), 11 Tips for Collaborating with Designers (A Developer’s Guide) (Elegant Themes)

Next steps

There are a few of things I need to do, so I’ll keep making weekly improvements as I go (and grow with the new skills I learn). My goal now is to create more content and share with my peeps on Twitter and Pinterest. And I’ll also work on posting on more Facebook and Instagram.

Would love to hear some feedback from you – tweet me or leave a comment below.


Interested in upgrading your DIY website? Let’s team up to relaunch your WordPress website. Start your project!

6 Simple Things That Can Help You Secure Your Online Business


You’ve probably heard about the Equifax security mess a few months ago. It’s happened to Yahoo, Target, and HBO. Hackers are busy finding ways to gain access to your personal info or attack your website.

If you’re a solo boss on a budget, you may not have the same resources as the big dogs like hiring a cybersecurity pro. But there are some tools that can help you keep your info safe, website secure, and desktop (and other devices) protected from attacks.

secure online business

This post contains affiliate links, this means I receive a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase using one of my links. Thanks for your support!

You want to prepare for the worst-case scenarios? Make sure you take the time out today to secure your online biz so it can keep going + growing without a hitch. Here are 6 things to help you do that.

Use a password manager

No need to remember 20+ passwords when you’re using a password manager like LastPass (free or $24/year).

After you save your accounts/profiles to your LastPass account, alls you have to do is sign in using just your email and one master password to gain access to your vault (where all your usernames and password hang out). When you sign up, you’ll have access to your vault whether you’re on a desktop, laptop, or mobile device.

Using the same email and password combo for all your accounts? If your G Suite/Gmail account ever gets hacked, the hacker can try to use the same password on your social media, bank accounts, or WordPress website.

Let LastPass generate a strong password that’s hard to crack and it will save this info for you. A strong password will have at least 8 characters including upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters (!@#$).

Related: How to Create a Secure Password You Can Remember Later: 4 Key Methods (Buffer)

Do remote work privately

Whether you’re using public WiFi at Starbucks or a coworking space like WeWork, it’s a good idea to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to keep your info secure.

Companies like Private Internet Access ($6.95/month or $34/year) lets you hide your IP address and browse the web without ads or trackers getting your info (IP address, location, what kind of device you’re using).

One account can protect your laptop, phone, and tablet when you sign up and install the app on your browser and iOS or Android device.

Related: How to Safeguard Your Data From Searches (The New York Times), Privacy 101: Why You Need a VPN (PC Mag), Worried about companies spying on your browsing? Here’s what you can do (CNN), The Best VPN Services (MakeUseOf)

Back that thing all things up

All of your hard work can be gone just like that. You don’t want to start from scratch if your device is lost, stolen, or damaged. So add your files, photos, and apps to the cloud storage. Backblaze ($5/month or $45/year) has unlimited cloud storage for your Mac or PC.

Just download the app + it will copy everything on your laptop to the cloud. You’ll have a full backup of your laptop where you can get access to your files from your iOS or Android. And when you make changes or add a new file, it runs in the background and autosaves it for you.

You can also locate your computer if it’s lost or stolen. And if you need to restore a backup, Backblaze can send you a hard drive with all of your data so you can upload everything to your new device.

Tip: For a mini backup solution, don’t forget to save your important files (contracts, proposals, client list) to Dropbox or Google Drive. Check out 101+ Free to Affordable Business Tools for other tools you can use for your business.

Secure accounts + get notifications

Many accounts like Gmail or banks offer something called Two-factor Authentication (2FA). This lets you take an extra step to verify that it’s you.

For example, logging in to your Capital One account with your username and password, the app will ask you to enter a 6-digit code (sent via email or text) to gain access to your account.

Some social media accounts will send you a link to the email or phone that’s linked to the account. Clicking that link will confirm it’s you and then takes you to the page you’re trying to view.

Look under security settings on your profiles to set up 2FA or use Google Authenticator. You can also sign up for email alerts so you’ll know if someone is trying to log in to your account.

Update your desktops + mobile devices

To protect your computer from viruses and malware, make sure you install any updates for your operating system (Windows or Android), anti-virus software, and enable firewalls.

If you’re on a Windows device, go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Defender then Security Center to keep your desktop protected.

For your Android device, Lookout takes care of malware scans on your apps, protects your data from threats, backs up your contacts, and locate your device if it gets lost or stolen (must turn on your location settings).

For Mac users, go through The Ultimate Mac Security Guide: 20 Ways to Protect Yourself for tips.


windows defender

Keep your website up and running

Just like your desktop and devices, your website needs to be protected and updated. Hackers can find ways to hack into your site and install malware that can send your visitors to another site, add spam links, and mess with your Google ranking.

Use plugins like BackWPup or Updraft Plus to back up your website. You can save a full backup (database, theme, plugins, posts, settings) to Dropbox or Google Drive. And choose from one of the 12 Best WordPress Security Plugins of 2017 to Keep Your Site Secure.

If your username is “test”, “admin”, or domain name (yourwebsite.com), you can change it to a username that’s hard for hackers to figure out or your email. Use LastPass to generate a strong password. And after you back up your site, you can delete that admin, test, domain name account.

Tip: Create an Editor account for when you or your writer need to publish a blog post, for example. So only you and your web developer will have access to use your Admin account for tech updates. After you backup your site, go to Users to add or delete a user.


add delete users on wordpress, secure online business

Related: The Ultimate WordPress Security Guide – Step by Step (WP Beginner), How to Improve Your WordPress Website + Get it Client-ready.

Turn on your alerts so you’ll know what’s going on behind the scenes. Also go through your security settings on Jetpack to handle login attempts and spam comments. And for extra security, use Google Authenticator to log in to your account.

After backing up your site, always keep your plugins and theme updated (and delete the ones that you’re not using). Some web hosts like Siteground automatically updates to the latest version of WordPress. And having a backup helps so if the latest update messes up your website, you can restore the last update to fix the problem.

If you’re having problems logging in to your dashboard, scan your site with the Sucuri SiteCheck scanner. It will check the website for known malware, blacklisting status, website errors, and out-of-date software for free.

If you’re hacked you can follow the directions to clean up your site or use their service to do it for you.

There’s also WP Fix It and they can clean up + secure the site to prevent future infections.

Related: 7 Signs Your WordPress Website Has Been Hacked (Domain Name Wire)

Learn how to manage your WordPress website from WP Beginner, WordPress, or Sucuri and get tips on site maintenance.

For the tech-intimidated, hire a dope developer that can take care of all of that for you.

If you’re handling sensitive info like credit cards, you can get a SSL certificate which will encrypt any personal info that’s being transmitted on your website. Learn how to How to Install an SSL Certificate or use Let’s Encrypt. Some web hosts like Siteground offer free SSL for your site.

Tip: Try Hover or Google Domains to keep your contact info private. Prices start at $12/year and privacy is included. And use the password generator to create strong passwords for your web host and domain name accounts.

Most important thing to remember: Backup then update.


Bonus Tips
Keep clients + team members in the loop
Let’s not pull an Equifax and wait until months later to tell your customers/clients. Notify your clients, team, and contractors ASAP. Let them know about your security issues and what steps they may need to take to protect themselves (reset passwords, close accounts). You want to keep your data safe but if you have access to SSN/Employee IDs, credit cards, and contact info, you should also let them know what’s going on.

Know what’s going on around the web
Sign up for emails from your web host, WP Beginner, Small Business Administration, Inc.com, and Private Internet Access Blog. Sign up for Google Alerts and get notified when someone posts on WordPress security, cyber security, or whatever topic you’re interested in.

Privacy on your browser
Is Chrome your default browser? Click the 3 dots that are under the close button (X), go the settings, and click Advanced on the bottom of the page. Then go through the options to make changes to your privacy settings – turning on settings for “Send a “Do not track” request with your browsing traffic” and “Protect your and your device from dangerous sites”. Want to keep your searches private? Use DuckDuckGo for your search engine.


Things happen. Things get hacked or get stolen. You want to prepare for the worst-case scenarios so make sure you take the time out of the day or on your next break so your business can keep going + growing without a major hitch.

Want to add a security tip? Share your thoughts below!

Photo credit: WOCinTech Chat

How to Improve Your WordPress Website + Get it Client-Ready (+ free checklist)


Ever thought about switching up your style and adding a little “je ne sais quoi” to freshen up your site?

Maybe you’re promoting the hell out of your content but you’re still not getting any love.

You could be just starting out and have no clue what to add to your pages and posts to attract the right folks.

Instead of having you in these biz streets wondering what to do or where’s the love, keep reading to find out how you can improve your WordPress website and get those clients rolling in. Then you can start swimming in Scrooge McDuck money. (Maybe not that much but anything is possible, yeah?)

And when you’re done reading this post, make sure to download your Better WordPress Website Checklist and copy this done-for-you Trello board to get started tout de suite.


Thinking of a Master Plan: Your goals for your blog and business

Better Copy + Content: What to write on your essential pages

Beauty and The Brains: Your website – design and recommended plugins to use

What’s Next: What to do after your relaunch

Recap: TL;DR version


This post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase or sign up using one of my links. Thanks so much for your support!

Not sure how to improve your WordPress website and get clients running to your virtual arms? In this post, I'm sharing tips on what to write on your posts and pages, plus what tools to use to help you revamp your website. Copy the done for you Trello board and download your Better WordPress checklist to get started. Photo Credit: #wocintechchat

How to Improve Your WordPress Website + Get it Client-ready - What are the top 3 main goals for your website? Photo Credit: CreateHer Stock | @msguery
Photo Credit: CreateHER Stock

Thinking of a Master Plan

Ask yourself a few questions before you get started:

What are the top 3 main goals for your website?
Do you want visitors to view your sales page and schedule a call? Show off your portfolio so visitors can see what kind of work you’ve done? Want your audience to sign up and download a lead magnet that gives them a taste test of what you have to offer? Donate to your non-profit organization? Or maybe you want to sell info products or courses that teach folks how to DIY what you do?

What problems are you solving and who should stick around?
Who are you helping? And how can you help them go from point A to Z? What’s in it for them when they call/buy/sign up? Is it related to your products and services? Will your blog, brand, and business help them do/make/achieve better things for their biz?

After you answer those questions, you’ll pick one goal and add it to each page on your website. Let’s get started!

Better Copy + Content

Know what to write on your essential page and all you’ll have to do is add your voice to it. Whether it’s class clown, corporate-y, or cussing, be yourself!

Home
What do you love to do? Who do you want to work with? Why should they work with you? How can you help them achieve their goals? What’s the next step they should take?

“I’m [name] and I help [audience] with [their goals or struggles] by [your solutions]. Read more about how I can help you achieve your goals [linking them to your about page, services page, or portfolio].”

About
Same as the Home page but also tell them about the person behind the brand.

Who are you? Where you’re from? What’s your struggle story? How you got started in your field? What are your skills and experience? What do you love about what you do? Who do you want to help? What are your beliefs/values/passions?

Add a picture of your gorgeous face and workspace. Add some fun facts about you and then tell them what to do next (aka your CTA – call-to-action).

Related Posts: Here’s 11 resources to help you write your about page. Read 30 Tips on How to Build Your Personal Brand and How to Stand Out When Everybody is Doing the Same Damn Thing

Blog
Make sure your posts are useful + relevant to your audience.

Did you answer the most frequently asked questions on that topic you’re writing about? Are you using graphics (screenshots, GIFs, stock photos) to break up your content? How about adding bold or emphasis tags to highlight the important deets? Can you make it Google-ready and SEO-friendly by adding important keywords in your post, URL, and alt text for your graphics? What content upgrade can you add to make it an even better blog post? Can you add click to tweet quotes to make it shareable? Did you add opt-in forms throughout the post? (Don’t forget to test the forms!)

Tip: Become an opt-in beast: add one to your home page, about page, footer, end of every blog post, and sidebar. Add a link to the Subscribe page on your menu or use Hellobar to add one to your header. You can even add a checkbox on your contact form like I did on my 17 Hats contact form:

How to Improve Your WordPress Website + Get it Client-ready - Add an option to your contact form to grow your email list. | @msguery

Related Posts: Find out how to get more people to read your content with these 17 simple edits and tweaks. Here are 50 Blog Topics for Creatives

Services
What do you enjoy doing? What problems do you solve? Who do you want to work with? What’s your process like? How do you take them from point A to B then C? How long does it take? What are the benefits of working with you? What do they get after working with you? Did you add “starting at..” prices? How can they get started? Did you answer the FAQ? Any myths/assumptions people have about your industry?

Sprinkle some results-focused testimonials. Add a link to your portfolio. Make it easy to contact you by adding a link to your “Hire Me” form or add it to the bottom of the page.

On your hire me form, ask for their name, email, link to your website, budget. Leave a text area so they can ask questions or give you details about their project.

Related Posts: Read 26 Questions to Answer on Your Services Page. Use this Sales Page Outline and then get to booking, good-looking, with these daily to-dos. Create dope work and then get some Powerful Client Testimonials after the project is done.

Contact
Tell folks who you are, what you do, and who you want to work with. How long does it take to respond to their message? What are your business hours?

Add a link to the FAQ page (or add FAQ on the same page). Add a link to “Hire Me” form. Add your business email and links to active social media accounts. Add a quick form to fill out (first name, email address, message). Make sure your form works by sending a test email.

Portfolio
Add the work you love and want to do more of. You can keep it simple by adding a screenshot or mockup with a link to the project. Or you can keep it fancy and use a method mostly used for job interviews: STAR method. You can also use it for your next blog post, proposal, or your portfolio:

Situation: details about the project – who’s the client, what they do, what goals and struggles they had before working with you
Task: what was your job, what’s the solution/service you provided
Action: how you handled it – your process to solve their problem (no tech talk, speak their language)
Result: what was the result – link to demo site or project, show the finished product (before and after screenshots or mockups – Smartmockups or take a screenshot on Am I Responsive)

How to Improve Your WordPress Website + Get it Client-ready - Use mockups (smartmockups.com) in your portfolio to showcase your best work | @msguery

Don’t forget to add their testimonial. And then end with a call to action – “Now accepting clients for March 2017. Get Started on Your Project” or “Let’s Work Together” linking to your services page or Hire Me form.

Tip: If you’re just starting out and don’t have anything to add to your portfolio, get started with these projects:

your very first client is you, so any work you did for yourself, add it!
rebrand/refresh/redesign your favorite shop’s logo/website/design
create a sample project for your dream client (and turn that into a blog post – “Behind the Scenes: My Web Design Workflow” or “Beginner’s Guide: What I Need From You Before We Work Together”)

Related Links: Find out How to Get Clients When You’re Just Starting Out. Get inspiration from Briefbox (for designers) or Uplabs (for developers). Work with non-profit organizations from Taproot to grow your portfolio.

Subscribe
Who should sign up for your email list and why? What will they get for signing up? How many times will you be in their inbox? (Monthly or weekly.)

Add an opt-in form and give them a preview of what you’ll send – maybe a link or screenshot of the last email you sent to your subscribers.

Related Link: Learn 3 proven ways to use email marketing for services businesses and the 5 Steps for a Winning Email Marketing Strategy

FAQ
Answer the who, what, when, where, and whys. How can they get in touch for more questions? Add the same questions from sales page and a contact form on the bottom. Make sure you answer these 4 questions on your FAQ page.

404
Add links to popular posts, a search bar, and an opt-in form. You can also add a general freebie where no signup is required. (Like a list of your favorite tools.)

Start Here
If you’ve done this for a while, round-up your popular posts. You can find out from Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/source/yoursite.com, Google Analytics, or your WordPress dashboard. Share your latest posts and what topics you’ll talk about. Add a mini-bio with a link to your about page and how to get in touch with you.

Privacy Policy and Terms + Conditions pages
Make sure you add those 2 pages to your site. Use free generators like Terms Feed and Iubenda.

How to Improve Your WordPress Website + Get it Client-ready - Use mobile-friendly theme. Update themes and plugins. Delete unused plugins and themes. Compress all images. | @msguery

Your Website: Beauty and The Brains

Freshen up your website and keep it updated and secure with a few recommended plugins.

Design
Make sure your site is distraction-free by adding more whitespace and fewer ads/badges. If you want to keep the ads, create some graphics to match your brand. Choose between 1-2 font styles and make sure they’re easy to read. Stick to 2-3 colors that aren’t too bright. Add some images or icons to stand out. Make sure your navbar is easy to find and has a path leading them to your main goal (Home -> About -> Blog -> Services -> Contact/Hire Me Form)

Use a mobile-friendly theme. Most themes are viewed on mobile devices, but if your site is a bit outdated, it’s about that time to upgrade since most of your visitors are will be using their phone or tablet to view your site.

Related Posts: Use MailChimp’s Content Style Guide for tips and writing great content. Learn how to Design For People With Accessibility Needs. Graphics looking tired? Try Canva to freshen up your brand or grab some free stock photos from The Stocks

Tech
Now you don’t want all that hard work to go to waste so make sure you do the following to speed it up and keep it up to date:

First, backup your site. If your username is “admin”, “test”, or the name of your site, it’s time to change it. Update your theme and plugins. Delete any unused + outdated plugins. Delete any graphics, drafts, or files you’re not using. Use tools like LastPass to create stronger passwords or use a password-free login like Google Authenticator – Two Factor Authentication.

Update WordPress core as soon as possible or find a great web host to keep your site up and running with the latest version of WordPress. Or skip the boring tech stuff and get a developer to handle it for you.

Related Posts: Learn How to Make Your Site Mobile-friendly. Site always down? Time to choose a better host. Find out How to Speed Up Your WordPress Site and Why it Matters. Read about why you should update to the latest version of WordPress now (not now but right now!):

WordPress last week silently patched a high-severity zero-day vulnerability that can allow unauthorized users to remotely modify a web page’s content and change any post.

Tips: Check grammar and spelling, fix broken links, disable pop ups for mobile devices to avoid penalties that can lower your ranking (+ annoy your readers).

How to Improve Your WordPress Website + Get it Client-ready - Use mobile-friendly theme. Update themes and plugins. Delete unused plugins and themes. Compress all images. | @msguery

Recommended Plugins
Download Jetpack – “The one plugin you need for stats, related posts, search engine optimization, social sharing, protection, backups, speed, and email list management.” And then try one of these plugins to make your site better:

How to Improve Your WordPress Website + Get it Client-ready - Promote your business on all social media profiles. | @msguery

What’s Next

Social Media
Time to update your social media accounts. Add info about what you do and who you work with, plus a link to your freebie, subscribe or sales page on all of your profiles.

Pinterest – edit your showcase and highlight your boards (latest blog posts, your portfolio, group board)
Twitter – pin your latest post or subscribe page, share your posts and follow-up by posting it the next day, next week, and month
Facebook – add your business page to your personal profile (when you’re connecting and engaging in Facebook groups, folks can check out your page), pin your latest post to your business page, and use the button to link to your subscribe or services page

Linkedin – You have a lot more space on Linkedin so you can add that same formula on your home page here. Don’t forget to add a call to action.

Related Posts: 8 Ways You Can Grow Your Blog and Business, How to Use Instagram for Business, How to Crush Social Media Campaign Planning

Workflow
After your website and social media revamp, it’s now time to organize your process. You’ve made changes to your website (and maybe your offerings), so it may be time to refresh your process also.

Before your clients start rolling in, think about ways to make your workflow easier for you and your clients. It doesn’t have to be a perfect system since you’ll make some changes as you grow, but planning your process will save you time and headaches so you don’t have to do all the things at the last-minute. The first step is to learn how to onboard new clients faster with 6 free tools.

Related Posts: You can learn how to make your clients love your business and keep them coming back for more. Here’s how to manage client expectations and how to get referrals from your clients. Check out Shopify for tips on working with clients.

Let’s Recap

For my TL;DR peeps, following these tips can help you grow your audience and your business:

Copy this done-for-you Trello board and download your Better WordPress Website checklist and use them as your launch guide to revamp your WordPress site.

Figure out your main goal for your site and point your visitors in that direction.
Opt-in here. Opt-in there. Opt-in everywhere!
All social media roads lead to your website.
Create dope and relevant content and share with your followers on social media
Do the same for your email list and remember to educate and share what you have to offer
Keep up the good work and then bada bing.. bada boom – notifications from PayPal singing “Just Got Paid“.


Have some tips you want to add? Tell me in the comments below. And don’t forget to share this post with your folks.

Photo credit: WOC in Tech

Beginner’s Guide: Creating + Launching Your Own Website


In the last post, you researched and developed your business plan, figured out how to price your products and services, and found out how to find and attract your ideal clients. It’s about that time to tell other folks on the world wide web who you are and how you’re going to help them by creating and launching your website.

We’re going to create + launch your business website and turn it into a reader and client-attracting, problem-solving and money-making machine.

This post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase or sign up using one of my links. Thanks so much for your support!

How to create + launch your business website. Buy a domain name and web hosting, choose between Squarespace or WordPress, create a brand + style guide, and add the essential pages you'll need for your dope biz

Your Online Home*
domain registration
web hosting
WordPress/Squarespace

Your Brand + Style*
branding yourself
creating style guide
finding images + themes

Your Site*
essential pages + what to say
privacy policy + terms of use

Your Blog*
blog’s purpose
200+ blog post ideas
create content schedule


Your Online Home

You’ve found your perfect niche, claimed your blog/business name on social media, created an actionable business plan, and priced your services. Now all we need is a home for your new business.

Since we’re setting up new + important profiles, the first thing we need to do is sign up for a password manager account. We want to keep our info secure and passwords hard to crack. So those same usernames and passwords you use all over the webs won’t cut it, dollface.

Using password managers, like LastPass, you can save all of your accounts and passwords in one spot (which makes it easy to fill out web forms). Lastpass is also a password generator, so it can create a strong password with numbers or characters (!@#%). All you’ll need is your email and one master password to get access and that’s it.

Tool: Use How Secure is My Password to find out how easy it is or how long it would take to crack your password.

Domain name
This is sorta like your home address. When someone types your link in the browser’s address bar, they’ll be sent to your website.

For your business website, instead of using www.nameofsite.wordpress.com, we’re going to change it to www.nameofsite.com. It’ll be easier to remember and look professional on your marketing material (biz cards, flyers, etc).

To buy a domain name, you can get one from a web hosting company or from Namecheap which is $13.57 per year ($10.69 + $2.88 for WhoisGuard to protect your personal info).

You can also try Google Domains which is only $12 per year and WhoisGuard is included. And if you decide to go with Google Domains, use Google Apps for Work account for your business emails ($5 a month). Instead of using yourname@gmail.com, you can switch over to name@yourwebsite.com. This will also make you look professional and manage your emails easily since you’re still using Gmail’s interface.

Tips: Remember to use NameChk to see if your domain and usernames on social media are available.
And keep your domain name and web host companies separate. If your website is ever down, you’ll still have access to your emails to keep in touch with prospects and clients.

Platform
The most popular platforms are Squarespace and WordPress. There are a few pros and cons to using either one, but it all depends on you and your business needs. Ana of The City Sidewalks talks about those pros and cons of using Squarespace or WordPress.

I’m not familiar with Squarespace, but you can learn more from Elle & Company Design. I do know Squarespace can handle the web hosting and domain registration for you, so you can just skip ahead to the styling and branding section.

If you’re #TeamWordPress, watch this video to know the difference between a hosted WordPress.com + self-hosted WordPress.org. (TL;DW version: Free but with limited control on WP.com. You need a web host and domain to use WP.org but you have more control, like adding plugins.)

Web Hosting
Your digital office space. Your 24/7 business card. Your one-stop shop and #1 marketing tool. And you have hundreds of companies to choose from, but think about the following questions before you make a purchase:

Is there 24/7 customer support? How fast do they respond? Will my site be up and running 99% of the time? Can they handle a blog with heavy traffic? Is it extra for e-commerce shop? It was $50 when I first signed up, but how much will after a year?

If you decide to go with WordPress, make sure your host is compatible with it. The following hosts are perfect for beginners and non-tech savvy folks. After you set up everything, all you’ll have to do is log-in from your WordPress dashboard since they both have the one-click WordPress install feature:

Siteground’s StartUp Plan: $47.40 1st year / $119.40 after
siteground-hosting

Inmotion Hosting’s Launch Plan: $71.80 1st year / $95.88 after
inmotion-hosting

I’m using Siteground’s Startup plan for hosting and Google Domains for my domain name since privacy is included. (I mean.. why pay extra just to keep your name and address private when Google Domains handles that for you for free?)

Tip: If you’re not ready to purchase hosting, register your domain name with Namecheap or Google Domains and forward it to the site you’re currently using. (e.g., forward your .com or .net to yoursite.wordpress.com or any other site until you’re ready to purchase hosting.)

More reading: Choose from this list of the best web hosting companies. And learn why you should avoid EIG-owned companies like Godaddy or BlueHost.

Copy this done-for-you Trello board to help you with your website launch.

Your Brand + Style

Using this Branding Toolkit from Naya the Creative, we can add it to your style guide to make your brand stand out.

But first, a few words about branding from Luvvie of Awesomely Luvvie (quote from Blavity’s EmpowerHer Conference):

Your brand is your voice, logo, site, slogan, and how others see you when you’re not in the room. It comes with expectations + emotions. So be authentic and accessible. And keep your visual brand consistent.

Style Guide
Think about your target audience and how you want your site/brand to look and feel. Use the following resources to help you choose.

More resources: Take a look at the Extensive Guide To Website Design from the Blogger Network. Download their free eBook on learning how to use Canva. Use Frontify to create your style guide with your fonts and new color scheme.

Images
Instead of going through hundreds of sites to search for the perfect pic, download this app called Zoommy App for $4.99. It’s a round up all the free stock photo sites all in one spot.

Search by color, landscape or portrait, and people or things. You can download any photo to your desktop and use it for your blog, Pinterest, or Instagram posts.


zoommy-app

More resources: Use The Stocks – “the best royalty free stock photos are delivered now along with videos, audios, icons, fonts and colors.” Follow my Pinterest board for more tips on Visual Marketing.

Themes
When choosing a WordPress theme, make sure to check the ratings, comments, and the date it was last updated. And since most of your viewers will be checking out your site from their mobile device, make sure your theme is user and mobile friendly. When you find the perfect one, try the demo version before you install or buy it.

For Squarespace users, here’s a Step by Step Guide for Choosing the Right Theme.

There are free themes you can use on WordPress.org. Or, you can try these beautiful WordPress themes from StudioPress.

More resources: Creative Market has a wide selection of fonts, logos, themes, photos, graphics, and templates you can choose from. You can get all the goods you need to build a brand and a website.


Your Site

The following sections are some essential pages you’ll need for your site. Your main goal on any page or blog post is to create a call to action – that one thing you want your visitors to do after they’ve read your content.

Do you want them to sign up to your newsletter? Get in touch to work with you? Ask questions or share their thoughts on your last post? Whatever the goal is, you’ll learn what to say on these pages to attract the right crowd.

Tip: If you already have content but want to revamp/redesign your website, read about how to improve your website and get it client-ready

Coming Soon Page
The first thing to do before you start working on your site is to set up a coming soon page. When people visit your site, the Coming Soon page will be the first thing they’ll see.

First, choose a launch date and give yourself a little wiggle room just in case there are some last-minute changes before launch. Next, give a little info about yourself and what your blog and business.

This will also be the perfect time to collect emails so you can keep subscribers in the loop. Here’s a Mailchimp tutorial from Melyssa Griffin when you’re ready.

Mailerlite is another option to use for your email list. Why use Mailerlite? Automation is included and you can send unlimited emails for up to 1000 subscribers for free99. So, if you plan on giving a 3-day email course for your launch, for example, that’s all free, buddy.

More reading: Try one of these ideas to prepare your visitors for your launch: 11 Ways to Create Hype Around a New Launch from Elle & Company Design.

Don’t forget to sprinkle some flavor from your style guide + branding toolkit. And for your background image, choose a pic from Zoommy App or The Stocks.

Tools: For WordPress users, try IgniteUp (see image below) or Easy Pie Coming Soon.

If you’re Squarespace user, go through this list to find the perfect Coverpage.

coming-soon-demo

Legal
If you plan on collecting emails, using Google Analytics to track visitors, or providing products and services, you’ll need a Privacy Policy, Disclosure Notice, and Terms of Use on your site. Find out more here from Jackie of Jade Oak.

That disclosure notice I used up top is required when you’re using affiliate links. Whether you’re getting paid or receiving something free, display your notice in the beginning of your page or post. Check out Blog Disclosures – What You Need to Know from Jade Oak:

Besides it being the law, making disclosures shows your readers you aren’t being shady and trying to hide anything. Being transparent and upfront will build trust with your readers since you aren’t hiding your relationships or vested interest when you recommend something. – Jackie

More resources: Use Iubenda to create your privacy policy for free. Carrie Dils shows you How Affiliate Programs Work. And learn Why You Should Use Nofollow Links on affiliate links from Free Borboleta.

Home
Here are 5 Things Your Business Homepage Must Include from Talented Ladies Club.

About
Tips from Twelve Skip on Creating an Interesting About Page aka the most visited page on a website. Here’s 11 resources to help you write your about page.

More resources: Tips from In Spaces Between on How to Write Your About Me Page:

An unforgettable About page has to be more than a biography or a bulging list of qualifications and your biggest achievements. It has to give your reader an insight into who you are, what you blog about and – importantly – why they should stick around for more. – Rachel

Start Here
You can have a Start Here page instead of an About page. Learn Why You Need a Start Here Page from House of Muses.

Contact
Learn How to Optimize Your Contact Page to Get More Leads and Sales from Nick Reese.

Work With Me/Services
Learn the 5 Steps to Writing an Irresistible Sales Page from Yes and Yes. And What to Include on Your Services Page from White Oak Creative.

More resources: Courtney Johnston from The Rule Breaker’s Club has 11 short (less than 6 minutes) videos you can watch that’s all about creating your Sales Page. Check out her YouTube channel for more info.

Copy Blogger will hook you up with all the tips and tricks so you’ll know exactly what to say. Check out this post about 16 Call-to-Action Formulas That Make People Want to Click from Hubspot.

Copy this done-for-you Trello board to help you with your website launch.

Your Blog

Purpose
What’s your blog’s purpose? Learn How to Define Your Blog’s Purpose:

Having a clear purpose for your blog will give you FOCUS. Your content will be stronger, your goals will become more defined, people will know what you’re all about and you can develop a tribe of readers. – Allison

Post Ideas
Elle and Company Design has 50 No-Fluff, Content-Rich Blog Post Ideas and Regina from ByRegina.com has 51 Types of Blog Posts to Help You Grow Your Reach. And, Arianne of Aeolidia has 260 Blog Posts Ideas for Creative Businesses.

Tools: I know you’re thinking, “That’s over 300 ideas!! Where am I going to put these ideas, Marjy?” I got you, sweet cheeks. You can use Evernote or Trello and save all of your ideas in one spot.

Process
Alisha Nicole has a great blog post writing process you can use, plus a free worksheet to help you out. Learn how to Write Blog Posts in 30 Minutes or Less: The 5 Question Method by Krista of Blog Beautifully. Also check out how I create and organize content for my blog.

Try one of these 101+ Blog Post Title Templates or use CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer so you can increase traffic and improve SEO. And while you’re over there, subscribe to their blog. So many great posts and freebies to help you and your blog/social media grow.

Use Grammarly to check for grammar and spelling errors.

Create Content Schedule
Here’s some tips on How to Create a Killer Content Calendar:

Content calendars help plan, organize and schedule every single piece of content you publish online. It’s the place where all of your social media posts, your blogs, your newsletters, your videos, podcasts and your graphics strategically come together to grow your business. – Kimberly Ann Jimenez

More resources: Editorial Calendar for WordPress users. Use the Editorial Blogging Calendar if you’re not on WordPress. It also comes with a free template.


Any thoughts, comments, or feedback? I’d love to hear it in the comments. And if you find this post helpful, make sure you save it on Pinterest or click to tweet below. Thanks so much for reading, folks!

This post is Part 3 of 5 for Create Your Dope Biz series. Next post will be on finding your tribe, your clique, your crew – no need to do this on your own, darling. And adding other dope doers to your team. Read more here: 8 Things You Can Do to Grow Your Blog and Biz.

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