Hey folks! Welcome back to Short and Sweet Newbie Week!
If you're just joining us, so far we've tackled: how big your list needs to be before the money starts happening, and whether you really need to be on social media, and how much time it takes to actually run a business., and how much this will all cost. If you haven’t seen those, click those links to catch up.
Now, onto today’s question!
Today’s question is “what do I need to get started?” As in, what is the absolute minimum I need to get this goddamn thing online and launched already?
Ahh, bliss. My favorite question of all.
In the hallowed words of the great Cuban sage Pitbull, “Let’s not talk about it, let’s do it!”
As is true with many things, you probably don’t need as much as you think to get started. Wanna know what it’s gonna take?
Now, we are operating on the assumption that you have any legal requirements accounted for, that you know what business you are going into, and that you are capable of taking payments. Assuming you have all of your logistical and conceptual elements in place – your business premise, a rudimentary, half-assed plan for brand, niche, demographics and such – what you need is a website. At IBHQ, we call that your home base. That website requires a few things, probably fewer than you think.
For most businesses with a service or one-on-one component, your home page will be the first page the majority of visitors, prospects, and leads will see. Your home page’s primary function is to orient your visitor so they know if you coach menopausal women or run a Polish diner. That is the only function your home page NEEDS to achieve.
Its secondary, more aspirational function is to make your business appealing or compelling in some way. Most businesses never achieve the second function, because home pages are really just signs that point people to various places. In most cases, they’re just not that interesting.
Home page copy can be nurturing, branded, and high-converting. It can also be some placeholder words so new visitors can find out who you are for three seconds before they click on other stuff. The former is great. The latter is also great. Don’t delay your business launch because you don’t know what to put on your home page. Whatever. It’s fine.
(Pro tip: You know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? If you don’t know what to say on your home page, choose an image heavy web theme to start. You can change it later when you actually know how to articulate what you do for a living. In the meantime, it’s not naked. It’s succinct.)
Back in The Days of Old, your About Page was usually the second highest traffic page on your website. The internet was new and shiny, and we all apparently had nothing better to do than read the meandering back story of a website we discovered 90 seconds ago.
Times have changed.
Now that we have TikTok and online poker, this monopoly on attention is gone for good. Your About Page these days will get very little traffic, and the traffic it does get will not stick around to read every scintillating word. They’ll skim a bit to see if you’re a weirdo and then click on something else. So you still need an About Page, but it doesn’t need to be very good anymore.
If you don’t know what to put on your About Page, find 10 in a niche similar to your own and paste them into a document. Read them there, away from their websites, where you can’t get distracted by pretty pictures and formatting.
Got it? Ok, now copy the structure of either the simplest one or your favorite.
Bam. You’re done. Do this every two to five years.
Services / Products Page
Ok, people. Now it’s getting good. This is where we start getting paid. You need a page indicating how a person could give you money, should they find themselves so inclined.
Services pages should be simple to start. They do not need to be sales or marketing heavy. In fact, if you sell too much here, it’s suspicious. The best services pages read like a spa’s menu – the writer chooses the most compelling words they can, sure. But at the end of the day, they’re just describing what happens when you sign up for a service. No serious prospect is actually reading the part about “letting your troubles melt away”. That’s bullshit language we use to try and convince the unconvinced, and in general, it has no effect. Serious prospects are scanning past all that crap till they get to how long the damn massage is.
Product pages are much more marketing-heavy, but most information marketers don’t launch their business with products, as it usually takes a while to make them. If you do have products at launch, and you’re not sure how to write your page(s), get Easy Peasy Sales Pages or simply use a sales page you like as a template.
Love it or hate it, most businesses in this industry place a heavy focus on content. Maybe it’s written, maybe it’s video. Maybe it’s snippets on social media, maybe it’s downloadable webinar recordings. Maybe it’s ongoing, and maybe it’s just a list of articles that never expands from there. The details vary and evolve, but most businesses in this industry have content.
How much content do you need to launch with? Between five and 20 pieces. If you’re in the low end of that range, your pieces should all be the same medium. If you’re on the higher end, you can break it up if you feel like it.
Even if you don’t plan to make content regularly, content of some nature is pretty non-negotiable for most businesses in this industry. (If this makes you cry, see content marketing without a blog ). People make content because it does their marketing for them. If you don’t have content, you’re going to have to do all your marketing yourself, which most introverts starting internet businesses don’t have the temperament for. So five to 20 pieces to start, and expand – or not – from there.
A way to get in touch with visitors.
This is usually a mailing list, and is traditionally accompanied by either a “list incentive” (also known as a freebie) or simply a call to action (“wanna get my newsletter? Put your name in this box”).
Unless you are selling service and doing a lot of outreach (cold calls, networking, etc), there is no point in meaningfully marketing until you have this in place. Otherwise, someone stumbles on your awesome self, voraciously consumes everything you have to offer, and then what? Then they leave, and they’re gone forever. If you can’t capture visitors, you may as well not have visitors.
(Understand: You can start with a crappy call to action and grow from there. You don’t need a list incentive to start with. If making a list incentive is intimidating, shove a signup box up there and come back to it later.)
A way for visitors to get in touch with you.
This is the easiest step, usually accomplished by a Contact Page. If I want to work with you, or let you know you spelled your own name wrong on your About Page, I need a way to do so.
Contact Pages are utilitarian pages that require no artfulness and no fancy copy. As a result, they are usually short and somewhat ugly. You can mitigate that somewhat by shoving a few pictures in there, but don’t worry about it too much. Nobody cares.
So that’s what you need. Five pages and some content.
If you need help making these pages, you can get The Ultimate Digital Marketing Template Pack. If you need help with content, you can get Plug and Play Blog Posts or the 1-Hour Content Plan. All three are available in the Karma Store.
In honor of Short and Sweet Newbie Week – and newbies! – for this week, you can get a sweet deal on my beginners’ course, Zero to Hero. It’s designed to take you from “hi, I’m new” to “this is starting to look suspiciously like a business” in 21 short and simple lessons.
Check it out here: Zero To Hero – Full Course Details