Planning your Website

Aug 31, 2023 | Marketing

“Show Notes”

This week Marcus and Sam talk about making that big jump to going pro. what are the key things to think about?

“Show Transcription”

Marcus: Hello there, Sam. How you doing?

Sam: Great, very good. Marcus, how are you?

Marcus: Yeah, I’m very well, thank you. In fine form.

Sam:  Excellent.

Marcus: So, in this week’s show, we’re going to really go back to what Sam knows the best, which is website. He’s helped me so much with my website. His knowledge just goes on and on and on and so he’s going to talk to us about how to the framework about putting a website together, whether you’re building a new one or upgrading an existing one. Sam, take it away.

Sam:  Thank you, Marcus. So, yeah, I’m going to talk about website planning. So, yeah, often I think if we’re making a website, lots of us make the mistake of, we know, dive in and start writing and sticking in pictures and hoping for the best while actually coming up with a plan. If you’re building a new site, or even if you’re redoing the site you’ve got and thinking about it, a plan is really key. So I’m going to talk a few different things about that. And the first one, the most important one to me, is, what is the end goal of your website? What do you want visitors to do before they leave? Because we all want them to do something. If you’re a service website, if you’re a service business, well, if you’re photographer, often that is, call me. Many photography websites has that and they’re saying, call me. And that might be you leave a phone number that might be links to Calendly, and people can book an appointment there and then. But that, for a lot of photographers, is that end goal, isn’t it? Call me, I want to speak to you. And then, you know, once you start that conversation with them, that’s where the kind of sale starts. But you’ve got to have an end goal in mind. I see lots of photography websites and others, and they talk about all sorts of things endlessly and then the website finishes, so somebody gets to the end of reading it and then they might click on your Facebook page and then they’re lost on Facebook or the kettle boils and they’re off. Visitors to a website need to be told what to do and they need to be told what to do again and again and again. So, yes, planning your call to action, I think is the most important thing. Not just one calls to action, but maybe two. It’s up to you three, probably at most. If you’ve got a bigger site, you could maybe get away with more. But the key is, what do you want people to do before the end of the site and repeat it? And then you’ve got to think about how to sell that call to action, almost, because it’s a call to action. Call me, okay? And call me. How tempting is that? Yeah, you go onto a website, call me. Read more. How thrilling is a call to action of that? Read more. Instead of call me how get your free 30 minutes, dot, dot, dot, and call. What are they going to get out of it? That sort of key. You’ve got to make this call to action tempting. You want people to take it up, you’ve got to think, what it’s going to be? So if you’re a wedding photographer, get your free 30 minutes wedding photography consultation, get your free brand photography audit and you can beforehand go and look at the website and stuff. But giving them something, it’s something tempting. Call me is not that thrillingly tempting unless you’ve got a bloody good offer that they want to take you up on. And not many people are. So call to action really important. What is it? How do you say you need like a single word or two, maybe a very short sentence, then maybe a sort of slightly longer sentence to help you sell it. And then it needs to be repeated. Repeated, repeated. So that’s the first thing on your website, call to actions. Absolutely essential that they’re everywhere, because that’s the whole point of your website. You want people to visit and do something.

Marcus: Would this be if you are putting a landing page together or a website? And maybe you could explain the difference between the two for me, please?

Sam:  Both. So every part of your website needs call to actions because there’s no point having a website if visitors don’t do something. Normally what we think of as a landing page is, for most people, a single page that is selling something specific. Often it’s a free download or something. So it could be Book your free 30 minutes brand photography consultation. It could be get my top nine free tips on how to make the best of your photography in social media, whatever it is. But it’s normally a one page site that is selling a single thing. And your calls to actions on that page are all about selling that single thing. And you repeat them again and again and again until you get the person to either go away or do whatever you’re telling them to do. Sign up here for my top nine tips. Sign up here for my top nine tips. Sign up here for my top nine tips. And eventually, once they’ve read that enough time, hopefully click and sign up for your top nine tips. So that’s normally what we mean by a landing page, but a website, too. There’s no point somebody going to a website unless they do something, because otherwise they read it and they say, that’s lovely, and then they go and do something else and they’ve forgotten and they’ve taken no action and they’ve not become a lead for you.

Marcus: Right, got you. Thank you.

Sam:  Cool. No problem. So then the next thing to think about is kind of the structure of the website, how you organize it. And there are different ways. Services are the most classic. So you think about your pages and if you’re photographer with different areas, you maybe go, okay, here’s my branding area, here’s my family area, here’s my dog’s area, whatever it is. I sometimes talk to people about changing that around sometimes and doing customer types. Although with photography that’s a little bit similar. So think about it in terms of your customers and who they are, rather than what you’re offering. You can do it that way. But the key is you need to think about what are you offering, how you want to arrange that in terms of the pages on your website and make it so it’s clear and simple and understandable to people. And so the idea is you get people from your website to the relevant page as quickly as possible. That relevant page has relevant call to actions for those customs.

Marcus: Got you from the home page to the other page. Is this journey you’re talking about?

Sam:  That’s it. So that’s my next one, the customer journey. And the customer journey is really important. So, yeah, you can have your main call to action on the home page as well, if that’s the book the call. But you also to me, the home page is about getting people to the right part of the website. So it’s about a sentence about brand photography with a nice picture and a nice call to action.Yeah, and a sentence about your photography of dogs with a nice picture and a sentence and a nice call to action. So you’re just getting people’s attention and getting them where they need to be. And on top of that, you can have the main call to action. They might be ready to call you. Right, then you can have your book. You book your free consultation there and then, yeah; you take them to the page that’s relevant for them. So maybe they’ve gone to the wedding page. And obviously that’s focused on people with weddings. And the call to action is linked to weddings. You might send them to the branding page and then that’s all about your branding. Photography and the call to actions are all specific and tempting to those particular people. So it’s good to think about how you structure those pages so that everything on that page is really tempting to the visitors. And that home page is being as quick as possible at getting people to them. Because when they come to your homepage, if you’ve got different services like that, they’re a little bit generic. So it’s good to get them to the part that’s speaking just to them as quickly as possible. That’s really important. So, yes, you got to plan the sort of pages and structure and plan the customer journey. Where does it start, where does it end? What are they going on between? And lots of people obsess about the menu with that. But I find actually, most people scroll and click rather than using the menu. But your menu.

Marcus: that’s interesting.

Sam: Yeah. Your menu still needs to be right and your menu needs to be simple. So as your website grows, which everybody does over time, don’t just grow the menu. Some people’s menu is like ten items across, 15drop downs, four, five, six items on your menu. That’s great. Maybe a couple with submenus. Keep it simple so that people can actually see what you’re offering. It’s the key important areas on the menu that’s got to be really important. That’s not the only part of the navigation when you get blogs that gets quite interesting, is how do you fit that into the structure of the website? Because often I find people make websites where they send people in loops. So they find the main part of the website sends them off to a relevant blog, the blog sends them back to a relevant part of the website. And so you’re kind of sending customers in circles with no endpoint. You kind of need to decide, is it the blogs that are attracting people in, in which case they can read the blog and then they’ll send them to a page about my services. And that page about the services has basically got my call to Actions for them to book a call, that’s great. Or do I do it the other way around and go, actually, I’ll tell them about my services, and then may be send them to a blog that they could be interested, and the blog has the book a call to Actions. But what you don’t want to do is the service page sends them to the blogs and the blog sends them to the. Blog sends them to the service page and all they do is go around in circles until they get bored and leave and they haven’t got to an endpoint.

Marcus: Right, that’s very interesting. I never thought of that.

Sam: Yeah, no, lots of websites send people in circles. So, yeah, thinking about where your blogs fit in and extra pages fit in, always when you’re growing your website, when you’re planning it initially and when you’re growing it, think, right, how does this fit in with the customer journey? What are doing? Is this a dead end? And sometimes dead ends are good if your page about brand photography is a dead end. But there’s lots of call to action saying, book a call with me, book a call with me, book a call with me. That’s great, because they’re going to do that at that stage. Don’t really want them to go and exploring the rest of your site. You want them to book a call with me? Well, if they may be on a blog, you probably don’t want that as a dead end so much. You want me to explore other pages and things, but be tempting them to go to that services page where they can read about it and get the call. Took the prompts to book a call with you. So, yeah, it’s quite important to think about how that structure goes and keeping it simple. They don’t have to go through this page, that page, the other page, the other page, the other page. Then to a site that doesn’t look quite like yours because you used the cheap version of the calendar booking, you want to keep it simple, one or two clicks and people are in the right place, they’re getting the information they need, they can very easily book a call with you. And, yeah, like we said, the calendly type of thing for booking a call with people is great. Do you use that, Marcus?

Marcus: I do use that, I do use that. But I was reading a book by Daniel Disney, who’s a LinkedIn expert, and it did really make me rethink my process in that, because he thinks it’s quite rude asking for people to fill in a candy form and book appointment straight away.

Sam: If you’ve got an alternative call to action, great, but you could do the free download and they still have to fill in form it’s for me. If they want to make an appointment, it’s way easier for them to do it then than fill in a form and then you email them back and go, oh, that’s lovely. Could you make this date, this date and this date? And then they email back and go, oh, no, but maybe. And you’ve lost them, haven’t you?

Marcus:  Yeah, that’s what I thought, but apparently people see it as being a bit rude. I like it. I think when I like it.

Sam:  you can have the alternative call to action, so you could as well as maybe, just like I said, two or three call to actions could work, so you could have another one, like we talked about, of download my five tips for a stress free wedding day. So you can get that sort of thing as an alternative. You capture the data, they get the download. So, yeah, if not everybody wants that.Yeah, different call to actions are good, but not too many. One or two. Right. Don’t make it crazy complicated.

Marcus: Cool.

Sam: And then you also need to think about kind of the key messages on your website, kind of what are you trying to get across? And if you’re building the website yourself, what business owners tend to do is get way too much across because they know their whole business and they try and tell you everything about it. And as a new person coming in who maybe needs some photography, they don’t need to know every process in your photography. I’ve been to photographers’ websites. The first page, it’s telling them, well, if you want to book a call, you can book a call and then we have a meeting. And then it depends if you want to do a photo shoot here and here, and if you want to do a photo shoot there, we do this. But if you want to do a photo shoot there, we do that. And then send me a slight deposit. And I said, oh, my God. Nobody needs to know all of this. You do, but that’s not relevant to a visitor. They need to know its outcomes. Visitors want to know, how can you help them, how are you going to solve their problems? Yeah, if you’re talking about your services, are you giving them a list of, on the day I will turn up with a canon, blah, blah, blah, and I will take 42 pictures? Or are you saying by the end of it, you will get some wedding pictures you will treasure for the rest of their life? Which are they more interested in?

Marcus:  Exactly. Sam and I do know there are two camps at the worst, there’s two camps of websites out there. There’s ones that I’ve got no information on, just loads and loads of images. And then there’s one is like you’re talking about when there’s too much information in there. Scroll through.

Sam:  No, definitely. And the images, it depends. So, yes, there are some websites where it is too much images. Some of those websites, from talking to a lot of photographers, are designed depends on their customer. So, yes, if you’re like a branding photographer, like, you definitely detect some photographers do just work with agencies and those agents.

Marcus: Exactly.

Sam: Some people at work. But, yes, it depends. For most people, that doesn’t unless the agency just wants to see the pictures, then, yes, you’re right, you need that text. And lots of photographers do think the image speaks for itself, and in some ways it does to some extent. But it doesn’t fully. And also, the person who is a customer of yours isn’t an expert photographer. If we’re frank, if the photography is reasonably good, most customers aren’t actually going to go, oh, that photographer is slightly better than that one. They want to know the work that’s gone in beforehand, how much effort you’re going to put into make sure the photo shoot goes well. What are they going to get out of it? Are they going to like it?

Marcus: Yeah, I think that’s a great point, Sam, about the historically websites with lots of images on, normally their photographer is represented by an agent who is doing all the work and all the selling for them. And I think photographers think, oh, I can copy that, but if you haven’t got an agent, it ain’t going to work.

Sam:  No, that works for very specific people in very specific sectors. But, yeah, if you’re facing the general public or you’re facing general business customers not in that industry, then, yeah, you need to be explaining what you’re doing, what you’re offering, and getting that really clear call to actions. So shall I run through a quick summary of that, Marcus?

Marcus: That’d be brilliant. Please do, Sam. Thank you.

Sam:  So, yes, so if you’re planning the website, the key is the first thing about call to Actions, what do you want visitors to do before they leave? And if you want leads from your website, they’ve got to do something, and it’s largely know, getting them to contact you, and capturing their data. So, yeah, the free download, the book, an appointment, give me a call and try and make that as tempting as possible and specific to your audience. Think about the website structure. How are you going to organize the pages and link to that, the customer journey? How are they going to move through the website and get those end call to actions and make sure that your website in the structure doesn’t go round in circles. You’re sending people to an endpoint where you’re saying, click this or go away, because that’s effectively what you want them to do. And think very carefully about your key messages. What are you offering? What is the endpoint? How are they going to feel? Not lists of numbers of photographer photographs and prices, about how they’re going to feel, what you’re going to do for them, why it’s great working for you and it’s all about them. I think. I’m going to do a whole no podcast about not writing about you writing about them, it’s all about them.

Marcus: Yeah, I went to a sales course yesterday, fun enough, Sam, and, yeah, guess what? All we talked about was that  I versus the you.

Sam:  no, that’s a survey done some people’s websites. I say go away. Count how many eyes are on your website or we, and count how many u’s and, yeah, if you’ve got more eyes or we’s than you’ve got it wrong, try again.

Marcus:  Brilliant, Sam. That was so interesting. I am definitely going to have to have a look at my own website now, after that information, especially the circular thing. I think I might be at risk of doing that myself. So if you want to find out more about the show or get even extra information, sign up to our newsletter, which is website4photographers.Co.UK/podcast.