When your website can get new people in the door,
you don't have to worry as much about marketing.

 

make it impossible for them to say no.

When I visit a new town, the first thing I do is run a search for a decent coffee shop in the area. Since my background is in coffee, my standards are high and kind-of specific. I’ll click through results on Google until I find a place that meets all my criteria—and even if that coffee shop is thirty minutes out of the way from where I’m headed, that’s where I’ll go for my morning jolt. 

How do I know which coffee shop is going to offer exactly what I want? The menu and the web presence are the two biggest tell-tale signs. Coffee shops that aren’t keeping pace with the most current brewing methods are still likely to be offering cappuccinos in small, medium, and large, without a cortado option in sight… and their websites are likely to look really dated. 

The wrong coffee shop for me will still be using small, dark photos on its site, and the few that are there won't tell much of a story. Maybe there will be a couple shots of the exterior of the business, or worse, the interior when no one is in it.
 

The best thing a coffee shop can do to sell me on the experience is to offer up-close-and-personal details of what’s going on there. I mean photos of tattooed baristas, in sharp-looking aprons, pouring milk as thick and smooth as wet paint over stripy espresso—and the smaller the cup the better. I want to see bags of coffee with the roast date stamped right there on the front label. I want to see photos of folks in their thirties working the counter, because coffee was their career choice and they take it seriously.

The modern website is the new business card—only a thousand times better, because it can be accessed anywhere at any time by anyone, and it can tell a much more complete story than a 3"X2" piece of cardstock. With the right design, images, and copy, it can be used to draw the right kinds of clients from the far corners of the earth, or your own neighborhood.

People are picky about where they spend their money—like me in coffee shops. Make them pumped to do it at your business. If you want to look legit to the right people, then let's talk.
 


Chris Guillebeau, author of The $100 Startup, has compiled numerous lists
on starting all kinds of businesses.
On every list, the first or second step is to build a website.

 


Telling people you have a business when you don't have a website to send them to is somewhat like insisting you have a life when you don't have Facebook to prove it. It may be true, but no one will believe you. They won't take you seriously.

Just like they won't take you seriously if you have a website but you say, "Don't visit it, though. It's old." Or how they won't take you seriously if you have a website where they can't contact you, or order whatever it is you sell, or any of these other rookie mistakes.

If you make yourself inaccessible online, the people who might otherwise happily pay you to do something you love will think you don't have confidence in yourself. So why should they have confidence in you?

Don't be intimidated by the prospect of building a website that makes you shine. It doesn't have to be hard. You don't have to take out a mortgage to do it. You actually can have the kind of website you're so excited to send new clients to that you run out of those 500 business cards you ordered on VistaPrint that have been sitting around since forever. 

And here's how I can help you do it....

The secret to my success in designing functional, beautiful sites is two-fold:
One, I only work with specific clients; and Two, my method for designing sites has a foundation
in what I always thought growing up would one day be my career:
writing and illustrating children’s books.

Clientele

My speciality is building sites with small creative startups and micro-businesses. Basically, I work with one-or-two-man operations, brick-and-mortar businesses with just one or two locations, very localized services, and crafty online sellers. 

If you’re an independent hairdresser, I’m probably a great web designer for you. If you’re a portrait artist, same thing. If you’re a pair of brothers starting your first brewing company; if you're a book illustrator; if you're a yoga instructor, a millennial roasting coffee out of your kitchen, or a jewelry-maker who crafts earrings out of found bones—I’m right up your alley.

The storybook in this image is Finding Wild, with illustrations by Abigail Halpin.

The storybook in this image is Finding Wild, with illustrations by Abigail Halpin.

Method

It’s very important to have a site design that matches the kind of clientele you’re hoping to reach. That’s why my children’s-book method is brilliant for creative small businesses, youthful companies with a cause, or tiny online shops. 

A children’s book is an example of storytelling at its cleanest. It always has a clear hook—that is, a reason to keep reading all the way to the end. It builds anticipation for a resolution. Often the illustrations are interactive or clever. Even adults will follow through and read to the last page.

I use these same principles in building websites. All the sites I build are artistic and clean. They use a variety of techniques to engage visitors and keep them clicking through. I find out very early on what it is that you want your site to accomplish, and then set up everything you need from there to steer visitors to do what you want them to do.

Big companies, or even small companies with hundreds of products, can’t subscribe to the children’s-book method… but micro businesses and creative startups can. And this is to their advantage. 

As a small business owner or startup, you need visitors to your site to get through your content fluidly and take action quickly, rather than meander, ponder, and think about maybe coming back later. You need to secure an appointment or sale right there, achieve a real-life personal connection from a visitor filling out your contact form or subscribing to a service. The children’s book method allows you to build Know, Like, and Trust more quickly so that visitors to your site want to work with you, and only.

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What Can I Help You With?

You want SMART site-mapping to ensure your visitors do exactly what you want them to do.

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Every bit of text, from buttons to full-blown paragraphs, pulls your visitors further in or pushes them away. 

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An expensive camera does not a great business photographer make. Your website images should tell a story.

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