Artwork for Episode 10 - Is your online presence working against you?

Do you struggle with your online presence? 

Does it feel that, no matter what you do, whether it's on your website or Social Media, you're just not getting it right?

If you feel like the online world is an uphill battle then this episode is the one for you!

Many of us struggle to represent ourselves online. To have the shiny brand, the brilliant words, the flawless photos, to post every day, to update the website.... it's a LOT!

What if it wasn't any of these things that determined your online success? What if, what makes your online profile successful is deeper rooted than that?

In this episode I guide you to the core of what online success really is, how to achieve it (without having a breakdown!) and I share advice and tips on what to do, and what to avoid?

Are you prepared to work smarter, rather than harder online? 

Episode Transcript

I’m Holly Christie, your host. I’m a website designer and small business mentor. I have 2 companies: This Demanding Life for businesses who are looking to grow with flow (and a magnificent custom build website) and Simply Sites, for start-ups who want a stellar website. I’ve created this podcast for you, to help you navigate the online and offline world, as a small business. We look at how to handle clients, what good business practices are, how to not be discouraged when everyone around you is projecting success and you’re not feeling it yet. I’ll also help you to put into place some really good practices which help you to grow your business.

This week we’re looking at how your online presence could be pushing your ideal customers away, without you even realising it. Ready? Let’s get started!

When you think about your online presence you’re probably thinking about your website and your social media accounts. Which is totally right but when we think of these, we don’t necessarily think of what our messaging is and this is the step that most small business owners miss. It’s also the difference between creating content which feels like it’s generating crickets - if you’re not familiar with the term, it means that the response to the post is so silent, all your can hear are the crickets in the background. And the difference between a post getting a lot of engagement. Remember, it’s not really about who likes things, it’s about who engages in a meaningful way. By this I mean, people who comment on what you’re putting out online, whether it’s a blog post, a social media post, a podcast, or your website. By commenting, not just tagging friends, or throwing a heart your way, it’s about discussing what you’re talking about in your posts. Because the people who do this, are those who are more likely to go on to use your services, buy your products and recommend you to their friends and colleagues.

Let’s start with your messaging.

The reason I’m starting here is that your messaging is the most important thing to get right. You can use a dodgy photo, or not have a brilliantly strong brand but if your messaging is on-point, no-one will care about the smaller details. Your messaging starts with your website copy, goes on to influence your social media captions and the words you use in video content.

So, let’s dig into your messaging….. when you look over your website copy and social media posts, do you sound confident or are you speaking quietly in a noisy place? Do you sound like an authority in your industry?

Are you sharing information that your potential clients actually want. I spent years creating ‘How to’ content, how to do this or that on your website, only to watch the tumbleweed go by and not know why people weren’t engaging. It was only when I really looked into what my ideal client wanted to hear that I realised, they didn’t want to know the how to information, after all, my ideal client would be paying me to do it for them. What they really wanted to know was ‘why’. Why they needed a website and a good one at that. What to look out for in the industry, such as dodgy templates, or developers who use software that makes it impossible for the client to manage the website themselves. They wanted to know when they could expect a return on investment on their website and how to choose a developer who was best suited to them.

I changed my messaging and the business flew in. So much so that I grew This Demanding Life from a one-woman band, to a small agency of 5 and setup Simply Sites, an off-shoot of This Demanding Life, for micro businesses and start-ups. Trust me, it’s all in the messaging.

Before we move on, I quickly want to recommend that you work with a copywriter for working out what your messaging is and for creating your website copy. Copywriters are a fabulous investment as they’re trained to write to your ideal client, take your client on a journey on your website which hopefully has them hitting the ‘get in touch’ or ‘buy now’ buttons and they highlight all of your expertise and experience in the way clients want to hear it, which isn’t always from an ‘inside the industry’ point of view.

If you can’t afford a copywriter to write the whole lot, 2 brilliant copywriters who I work with, Natalie and Oliver both offer copywriting consultations where they can teach you how to work out your messaging, write your website copy and they’ll even edit and polish up the finished article for you. If you’d like their details, send me an email.

Your website.

Creating a new website for your business is a big undertaking and one you only want to do every few years. In the same way decorating your house has a lot of preparation before you get to the final flourishes, so do websites and these cost both, time and money.

Therefore it’s not surprising that most website owners want the finished site to be something they absolutely love, which they feel they’ve had real value for money on and is a complete reflection of them, inside and out. On top of this, they’ll often want elements and features they’ve experienced on other websites, like animation, slide-ins, sign up forms/chatbots, etc.

This is all great and of course we can achieve whatever you want on a website. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that just because you can do something on a website, it doesn’t mean you should.

Animation

Animation can be very effective when used sparingly. A column dropping in here or an offer sliding in there can keep people entertained and add a bit of pizzazz.

The problem is that when people choose to animate things on their website they tend to end up animating EVERYTHING on the site - containers magically appear, columns fly up, elements swoop in and as well as being a huge distraction from the actual content, it can make viewers feel sick, slow down a website significantly and stop Google from choosing to display the website at all on mobile and tablet results.

Instead, go for stunning imagery, the occasional video and a well thought out user journey. This also goes for your social media posts. A bit of animation can be fun, but if it’s only one thing animating that takes a few seconds, like a word or symbol sliding in, it can sit in that no-man’s land on Social Media of not really a video or reel, but because it’s not a static image, it gets treated as a video and gets really few views or engagement.

Not enough information

“People have short attention spans and they’re only getting shorter.”

“People make a decision on whether they like a website in the first 3 seconds.”

“Make sure all text is skimmable and in sections for people to easily read.”

If you’re a website owner the chances are  you’ve heard all of these and more than once. Whilst it’s true, peoples’ attention spans are getting shorter. It doesn’t mean you can skimp on your website copy. Yes, your text should be skimmable, but you should also have parts of the website where people can get all the information they need. For example a FAQs page, clear pricing models and bold, Calls to Action.

This also counts for Social Media - your words on Social Media really need to mean something - it’s not enough just to stick a video up with some trending audio and hope for the best. I mean, yes, it will get you views, but will it get you the right views? There’s a reason that we refer to the account figures as ‘vanity figures’ because it’s great to feel popular and liked, but likes and views aren’t going to keep you warm at night, or put food on the table. What’s really going to do it, is valuable content, which looks and sounds like you.

In the case of Social Media, you need to put just enough information out there. For example if I was going to turn this podcast into a social media post, I wouldn’t use all the content as it’s too much for the viewers. Instead, I would break it down into a series of posts and post individually about each section. I may also do a ‘sum up’ reel, where I go through the main headings in 90 seconds or as a carousel post in 10 slides or less, Either way, get the amount of information right for each online platform you’re using and you’re winning. In this case, less is more for Social Media and, go into more detail on your website, where your ideal client has purposefully gone there, so you’re not competing with the noise of social media posts, while the person is on your website.

Made up words

It’s brilliant when you think of just the right word for something. Even better that you’ve made up the word yourself so no-one else has heard of it yet.

This is also the problem - the word’s made up and no-one else has heard of it.

People buy from people based on a ‘know, like and trust’ basis. They get to know you by spending time on your website, following you on social, recommendations from friends etc. If they’re engaging with your content then the chances are they’re getting to like you and the more they like you, the more they’re going to trust you and, when they’re ready to buy, they’ll buy from you.

So here’s where the made up words come in. If you’re making up words then it’s hard to build up that trust. If you’re making up words you could also be making up other things, like the testimonials on your website or the sales you claim to have made. Trust me, making up words may sound fun but it won’t win you clients or make you sales.

Instead of making up words, look at the way you’re using words, it may be that your copy needs to be more engaging. Again, a  copywriter will create engaging website copy as well as dramatic headings and sub-headings to help hook the visitor in and keep them reading for longer.

Images

Images can be such a tricky one. For websites you’re going to need to have a brand photography shoot, or at least, some really good headshots. Social Media needs to be a mix of ‘homegrown’ photos, as well as your brand photography. Put all brand photography up and people will disengage with your account, use all homemade and people will start to skip over it, too. Here’s some guidance on how to use imagery for your brand in both circumstances.

Have clear, simple backgrounds.

Before taking any photos, check the area for mess/cables/anything which will detract from the subject of the photo. These photos also become easier to crop because there aren’t any distractions in them.

Have a variety of poses where you are both, in the centre and off-centre.

This is so you can add writing to the side of the image at times and allows margins for cropping & use in Social Media posts.

Get your brand colours in your photos.

Whether it’s via a coffee mug, cushion, pen, it all counts and will help your brand feel cohesive.

And here’s my list of don’ts.

Don’t have photos of your children on your website.

I know it’s hard, so many of us have setup businesses to be flexible around your family and you want your kids to be a part of the story. However, one child looks like another to anyone not related/or in personal relationship with the family meaning that it’s not a point of connection for your ideal clients, it’s not professional and in extreme cases, it can be a safeguarding issue.

Don’t use photos of you working from your bed.

Whether you work from your bed or not, it comes across as unprofessional and if people are paying for a professional service, they want to see a professional representation of that.

Don’t use photos taken in your kitchen.

Unless you’re a cook/chef/selling kitchen equipment, in which case, as long as your kitchen’s been signed off and given a hygiene rating by your local council,  go ahead!

Seriously, with the kitchen being one of the most expensive, and often most polished, rooms in the house, it can be tempting to want to use it as the backdrop in photos. However, if you’re offering a professional service, a photo on your website of you perched on the kitchen side with the tap and sink or cooker in the background, isn’t going to instil confidence in your potential clients, it more likely screams ‘couldn’t afford a shoot with a brand photographer who would advise against this setting’.

Finally, make sure it’s cohesive -  it’s ok to mix it up between personal and professional posts but it’s not going to work if your website looks like the most shiny, polished version of you and your Social Media presence, whilst understandably more relaxed, feels like worlds apart.

Last but not least - Dodgy navigation

This one applies just to websites but t’s a big one as one of the things Google looks for in a website is strong navigation. It should be clear, accessible, predictable and tell Google, as well as the user, where clicking on the link or menu item will take them.

This means having things clearly labelled. If you’re sending someone to a page of testimonials, call it testimonials. It may seem lovely to use words like ‘praise’ or ‘recommendations’ or ‘nice words’ but this will work against you with Google and people already on your website may not go to those pages because they don’t know what they’re about.

Google also looks for relevant links within pages, this can be having a ‘recent articles’ slider at the bottom of a blog, links to the services pages from the Home and about sections, links to the FAQs page from the services sections and, if you’re a member or accredited to any governing bodies, links to their website, from yours.

Your online presence will need regularly updating, especially as you grow in confidence and the more clients you work with, the more you’ll want to keep tweaking it until you feel like you’re 100% authentically you online.  It could be good to use a photographer who offers a subscription service so you can update your images regularly. Or a branding specialist who will create new graphics as you hone your offerings and services. Read through your website text periodically and ensure it still fits, sometimes you may not need a re-write but a power hour with a copywriter could really jazz it up. Chat to your website designer, at least annually to find out if there are any technical updates either with your website or Google to help you to keep on top of the trends, keep your website fresh and Google choosing it in search results.

If you’d feel like your online presence could use some work and you’d like support in getting there, drop me an email to holly@thisdemandinglife.com and I’d love to help.

Let’s wrap up. As a reminder, we’ve talked about how to make your online presence representative of you and your products or services, as well as how to build a cohesive presence across your website and your social media platforms.

We’ve looked at how to define your messaging and have it really reflect you. How working with a copywriter is a great investment here.

How to utilise your website to give more information to your ideal clients and which elements are penalised by Google and should be used sparingly.

How to make the most out of your photography and images you use to build your online presence.

How to make sure your website navigation is Google compliant and offers a fantastic user experience.

What do you think? Is there anything you’d like to add to this episode? Do get in touch and let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

That’s all from me this week. I hope it’s given you some food for thought for handling your online presence, and I’ll look forward to being back with you, this time next week. In the meantime, please could you pop over and leave a rating and review for this episode or podcast, it makes a massive difference in how the podcast platforms choose which ones to show to new listeners and I’d love to be able to share this free resource as widely as possible. Thanks and see you next week!

Brilliant first episode!!

The first episode of “Your Business, Your Way” is a refreshing take on the entrepreneurial journey I needed to hear this morning . I felt reassured hearing Holly emphasise a crucial point: you don’t need to know everything to get started. This approach is a game-changer, especially for those new to the business world, breaking down the barriers of perfection and complete readiness that often hold us back.

What I loved about this first episode of the podcast is its blend of practical advice with an undercurrent of motivation. It reassured me that starting with what I know and learning as I go is not just okay, but a smart way to grow. The podcast feels like a supportive friend, nudging you to take those first steps while keeping the mood light and approachable.

For anyone at the crossroads of starting or scaling a business, this podcast could be the push you need. It’s a promising mix of insights, stories, and encouragement. I’m eager for the next episodes and recommend it to anyone looking to embark on a business venture in a way that’s true to them. It’s an exciting start, and I’m genuinely looking forward to where this podcast will take its listeners next.

wmbaggs

Feeling inspired

Would definitely recommend this podcast. Aimed at those small business owners, but for someone who has recently started a new role in my company, this definitely motivated me on this cold wet Monday morning to not be afraid of being vulnerable in the workplace and putting myself out there!

Can’t wait for the next episode

izagoo9067

Small Business Growth

I love listening to each new episode of Holly’s podcast. It feels like she has read my mind and understands the challenges I find myself up against when running my business. Her advice and insights are fantastic and I’m looking forward to hearing her future episodes. This is a great resource for any small business owner trying to establish a successful business in the online (and/or offline) world.

Fay Wallis

Small Business Growth

I’m so excited to have your podcast alongside me as I grow my business. Looking forward to taking action on your steps and learn from someone who knows what they are talking about. Thanks Holly – you’re a star!

LisaJaneYork

Just listened to your first podcast episode and it’s absolutely brilliant! Good work Holly!

Mike Cottam

Really Refreshing

Looking forward to the next episode, I’m hooked already. Really easy to listen to and definitely strikes a chord with me. 

MrsH68