If you're a Carpenter, Plumber, Electrician, Painter and Decorator, Plasterer, Builder or other skilled tradesperson and you're thinking about creating a website for your business, you might well find this article helpful.
We're in the process of developing a website for James Astell Carpentry, and it made me realise that there isn't a lot of help out there for you in terms of web advice.
You know your business, you know you're great at what you do, and you make a good living out of it. But in these times of economic recession, it's essential that you market yourself as widely as possible with minimum hassle. And that's where the Internet comes in very handy.
The web might seem daunting, but if you get the right advice and if you're well prepared, setting up a website is as easy as ABC. Here's a handy list of what you need to do:
Start researching domain names and buy the ones that you need. For example of you're an electrician and you're name is Fred Smith, you could look for www.fredsmithelectrical.co.uk or similar. Or you might be happy with plain old www.fredsmith.co.uk. Here's a good place to research and buy the domain names you want.
If you have pictures of the work you've done, get them together in one place ready. If you don't, start taking some or ask your customers to send you photographs if they have time. Make sure they're clear and well framed.
Whether you have photographs of kitchens you've fitted, boilers you've installed, houses you've built or rooms you've decorated, they will help convince people browsing your website that you're the person they should call for their project.
You'll need testimonials too - call or email your customers and ask them to write a brief paragraph about the work you've done for them and how pleased they are. Make sure you check that your customers are happy to be named on your new website - anonymous feedback never looks authentic.
Website pages and text
Think about the pages and text you'd like on your website. You'll need some strong text for the homepage, a page about the services you provide, another with more details about you and your skills/qualifications/memberships, one with photographs and descriptions of your work, and a page on how to contact you as a minimum. You don't have to write it yourself necessarily, but write down bullet points to make sure you cover everything that's needed to convince people to use your services.
A photograph of you
Would a photograph of yourself help to make potential customers feel at ease with you? If you're happy to do this it's always a bonus. Just make sure you pick a photograph where you're smart, presentable, and look approachable!
Your business image
Think about the image you would like to convey to customers. Are you conservative? Traditional? Formal? High end? Cheap and fast? Well established? A new and exciting business? Fun, creative and quirky?
What would you like to spend on your website? You'll need to work out how much you can afford, and be realistic. If you want a decent site, which will achieve good results on Google and the other search engines, you should be willing to spend at least £500.
Who should build and manage your website?
The next stage would then be to go about selecting someone to build your website for you. Obviously your first port of call should be manage my website (!) but if it isn't, you need to look at examples of the designer's work to make sure you'll be happy with the final result. You also need to talk to them about how they'll make sure your website shows up on the first page for search results in your local area. For our tips on search engine optimisation, click here or there are more here. If you can, contact their other clients to get some honest feedback.
Once you've found someone you feel comfortable with, and if you're prepared with all the information listed above, building your new website should be a very straightforward process!
Now that your website is ready, you or your web designer need to register it with Google, add yourself to Google's Local Business Center, and put your new website address on any internet directories you're listed on, e.g. Yell or Free Index.
If you're not listed on any directories, make sure you do it as soon as possible as many of them are free. Why not Google your trade and area, then check which directories come up on the first page? You can then register with them and ensure you're right there with your competitors. Here are some other directories you should look at:
*Please be aware that once you've added yourself to the various directories, you will very probably receive numerous cold calls from companies trying to sell you advertising or search engine services. Ignore them!! If your website has been set up properly and you follow the steps listed above, you should not need to part with even more of your hard earned cash to make it work for you.*
You could also join a website that not only gives you leads, but also allows your customers to rate you. This, in turn, will help you get further work. Try Rated People.
I hope this has helped you on your quest for a website. If you're from a skilled trade and would like to learn more about manage my website's services and how we can help you, please get in touch. We promise there won't be any hard sell!