Here’s a really obvious piece of information: You are you.
There is no-one quite like you. Your age, your family and friends, your nationality, your education, your history. Only you.
Here’s another for any small businesses, charities, or freelance professionals out there:
Your work is different.
You may not be the very best, but the reason your customers come to you is because yours stood out to them. You are different and that’s good. You have different roots, different things that have made you do what you do, how you run your business, for who, with different principles behind it.
This is why individuality within your work, and how you advertise, is really important. Copying others hurts everyone, it suggests that everyone’s individual craft is the same as everyone elses. That difference that made you special disappears. You lose customers to the mass-produced market, the cheap, the easy, the convenient. Trends are all well and good, but creativity beats everything and adds worth to a fashion. It means more to produce something that stands out, that represents who you are, and who your customers are.
If you want people to know who you are, you need everything about your website to show that. Your website needs to answer every question your customers might have about what you do. For example, if you create one of a kind pieces of art, you need to attract people with what they will be getting if they purchase, why you do what you do, what brought you to this point, what are you inspired by. All of this tells a story which makes that one of a kind piece that bit more special.
It is no good wanting to be something you’re not. I have been in conversations where it is so full of other websites, other designs, wanting something “just like that”, that they miss who they should actually be advertising: themselves. One of the saddest situations I have been in was with a group that was trying so hard to be “like them” that they missed all the great things about themselves, just as they were. It was heartbreaking because as I watched I knew that if they only stopped and looked around a little, they wouldn’t need to worry about competing with “bigger and better”, because they were pretty great already. Although getting inspiration, and learning from those you might aspire to be, is understandable and sometimes useful to get those creative juices flowing, to imitate to the point of copying does not help you, and is disrespectful to the original owner. It simply isn’t honest, it doesn’t show the reality of you, and therefore misses all the great things about what you do.
It is not even good showing what you might be one day. This is dishonest, and it suggests to your customers you can give more than you actually can. This will only ever end badly, as you will end up letting your customers down. Look at it this way, if you see a piece of pottery online, it’s great and for a good price, you buy it. Then it comes beautifully wrapped, with a personal note from the artist, and a little extra piece, aren’t you going to think so much more of the seller? Getting more than you expected is always a lovely surprise. When you suggest you’re further along than you are, the customer will expect those little extras as just part of the service, and your reviews will reflect that. Focus on the present, celebrate your accomplishments and you will see far more positivity.
You have to be honest about you right now. I have loved finding artists and craftspeople who are right at the start of their journey, do incredible work and surprise me with how much they learn in a tiny space of time. Being honest of your point just means you are willing to grow and learn. Those that stick with you will show their love and loyalty far more than someone who just thought you were giving the bare minimum.
You now, is honest, and great, and showing off your best will work far better for your business that mimicry or misplaced pride.
So how do you get all that into a website? Here are some tips to make it a little bit less overwhelming:
- Create a consistent look, whether that is a logo, watermark, letterhead, etc. This will help everything look neat and professional. Try and find a font which is easy to read but that you really like and stick to it. If you like it, it already says something about you but if in doubt how about asking the opinion of friends or family?
- Pick colours and shades that work well together. DO NOT use moving background graphics, “sparkles”, or bright yellow writing on black. These are not only far too lost in the 80’s but, more often than not, will just hurt the eyes, and it’s just not worth it. You can also compare the colours you want to use with images of your work to make sure it doesn’t clash.
- Make the menu clear and simple with a clear way to get in contact and/or buy what you’re selling. The easier you can get around the better, I can’t list the number of sites which were so complicated I gave up and just went elsewhere.
- If you have something special to show people make it obvious. Good, well-taken, photographs are a real plus point. Make sure they are well-lit and edited. Don’t clutter your page with images either, too many will detract from the best ones, and will likely slow down your page making it frustrating for everyone.
- Give concise details about what your customer needs to know; this could be materials, delivery, any custom choices. A little background about your inspiration can also be great but don’t ramble. More and more people try to find information via the internet before calling or getting in contact, so you want to make it easy for them. Then you can reel them in like fishes on a very tasty hook.
DO NOT COPY. I don’t care if another website looks amazing. It’s someone else’s design and hard work and legally you start wandering into copyright issues. You need to focus on you, and showing that off to the best of your ability. You can do that, and it could be fantastic, you just need to put in a little effort.
You don’t need a web designer to create something great but if you’re struggling there are some great ones out there. Be sure to shop around and get quotes though. In the end it may be more about personality than about the price, if a designer gets you and exactly want you want perfectly, then they may just be worth the price tag.