05 Dec My first SCARY step into the online world
My first step into the online world was very scary for me.
Deciding to start my business was a big stretch outside of my comfort zone, but exposing myself online was even harder. With a tendency to shyness, the idea of “showing up” in front of millions of people… just frightened me!
But when you offer virtual assistance or other types of online services, having a website is simply mandatory. Even if you are a local brick and mortar business, your audience is online; they will look for information regarding what you sell, and they’ll find you. And if you’re not there, well they’ll find your competitors…
So I realized I needed to be online. I needed my shop window. I needed a website. I was scared, but I wanted to do it. And I had also decided I was the one to build it. It was my personal challenge.
At forty-something, I had decided to quit my corporate job and start over… I didn’t know one single line of HTML code, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could build a website if I wanted to. And I did it! My very first website was very simple, really basic, but it helped me find my first online clients.
Start with your website!
That’s your space, your shop window, your opportunity to provide plenty of information to your audience. I know some people who started with just a good profile on social media, and it worked out well for them. But I believe that having a website gives the impression of a much more effective presence. It gives more credibility. It means you are serious about your business. You are ready to invest time, energy and money into it.
And my advice is always: create your “space” outside social networks because, although very improbable, they might be gone one day. Facebook might decide to close down your profile or page, and you would lose all of your content. Your website is yours and will stay there.
There are plenty of web designers who will help you create your “space”, but if you decide to do it yourself, then check out WordPress. It’s very user-friendly and with plenty of tutorials all over the web, you can’t go wrong. It allows you to create a website even if you have no idea of CSS code and HTML.
Unless you have web design skills yourself, you can start with a really basic website. You can always revamp it later. Just make sure it includes all necessary information that your potential clients might find interesting and captivating – and of course useful and helpful: it still amazes me when I search the website of a local business, looking for their opening hours, and can’t find them!!
Remember your website should be created keeping in mind your potential clients. It’s all about them. When you write content for your website or blog you need to put yourself in their shoes, thinking about what they are looking for, what type of problems they might need to solve. Don’t focus on yourself, shift the spotlight on them!
As soon as your potential clients land on your website, they need to understand:
What benefits will I get from buying these products or services? How will they help me? Do I trust this person/company?
And they need to know it in just a few seconds. Sad… but true. Literally, just a few seconds.
Essential information they need to find.
- Information about your products or services.
- Something about you. You have the chance to differentiate your services from those offered by others, because of you and your why: who you are, why you do what you do.
- Contact details, including links to your social media profiles.
- Testimonials, really helpful to build trust.
Avoid being too wordy.
The first version of my website was fully packed with text… I wanted to provide as much information as possible about what I did, how well I did it, etc…
But people are in a hurry. They just scan the page. Hardly anyone will read all you’ve written (probably no one).
Learn to be concise, get to the point and focus on them, on your visitors and the problems they need to solve.
They are going to spend just a few seconds on your website and in that short timeframe, they need to understand if they are in the right place. If they immediately see something relating to that exact problem they need a solution for… well, chances are they will take a look at the other pages of the website. If not… they’ll just leave, quickly – very quickly!
Add your personality.
This was tough for me in the beginning. I preferred focusing on my skills and professionalism instead of showing something of the “real Antonella”. In the early stages of my business, my message was a bit too cold and formal. And I soon realized that this wasn’t the right way to go.
I needed to differentiate my business and my services.
There are plenty of VAs who can help with social media, email marketing, blogging, etc… I’m not the only one who offers these services at a high level of quality.
So what makes me different? It’s my personality: how I am, how I do things and how I communicate.
But how will they know if I don’t tell them? And the best way to “tell them” is adding your personality to everything you publish online.
That’s the best way to find ideal clients. When they read what we write, they will identify with us and will maybe feel ready to start a conversation. Maybe not now, maybe it will happen in the future, but they might decide to subscribe to our newsletter in the meantime… the connection has been made!
One more element: the blog.
In the beginning, I asked myself many times: should I blog? Really? Why? I’m not a blogger, I’m a virtual assistant. What should I write about? Who would be interested in reading it?
And my coach kept telling me: yes, of course you should blog.
Now I totally understand. When you write about something, you have more opportunity to spread the word, showcase your expertise and, importantly, improve your SEO too, because Google loves fresh content.
Your articles can be shared on social media, meaning more opportunities to be seen.
Yes, you should blog. It’s part of your online strategy. One of my next articles will be around creating a simple blogging strategy to follow. Stay tuned!
What’s your experience with the online world so far? Have you found it hard to show up? Or did it come naturally to you?
I’d love to know, please share here below.