Today we’re going to talk about when and how to hire a web designer. I have heard from a few people lately that we’re in their long-term plans, or they are preparing to hire us next year. I love this! I’ve been sharing some tips with them, and thought I’d share with you, in case you’re thinking about it.
The businesses we work with start small. One person filling orders from a makeshift shipping station in the garage isn’t unusual. They keep at the challenging work of growing a business with persistence and good cheer. One day they notice that the original way they ran the business no longer seems to fit. They need new systems in place and need to hire help; they need a cost-effective way of increasing production that stays true to their business. And – this is where we come in – that handmade website is not cutting it anymore, and the amateur packaging is making it hard for them to move forward.
In the earliest days of Aeolidia, a decade ago, we worked exclusively with people at the beginning of that timeline. Our clients were the sole proprietors in their garages, making everything by hand. Our business has grown up along with these designers, and we now serve them in the second phase of their business. This is the tipping point where they can become a “big little” business, making more money without overworking themselves.
Who should hire a web designer like Aeolidia?
If you don’t understand your brand, or haven’t found your customer base, it won’t make sense to hire us …yet!
In the early days and years of a business, things can and should change a lot. You may rethink who your audience is, what belongs in your product line, and how to structure your business. This is a great time for experimentation and learning by trial and error. It’s not such a great time to invest in a custom website design or a professional brand identity.
If you use a free Shopify theme and change your mind about it later, no loss, right? If you hire a lower-priced web designer, that site may serve you well during this phase of growth.
When you hit the next phase of growth, we are here for you! Our area of expertise is with businesses at the tipping point who need a push away from their DIY efforts and over to where they can make much bigger sales. Think Huffington Post, O magazine, Martha Stewart. Want to see your products in Anthropologie, Paper Source, the Land of Nod? After working with us, you’ll be ready for whoever knocks at your door.
You’re in the right place if you have a great product and a growing customer base, but feel held back from reaching the next step for your business. The stand-out product packaging and high-converting website you work on with us will knock down what’s holding you back from reaching your potential.
Our work is an investment intended to pay for itself quickly, and we have seen this happen over and over. No one else knows your creative business as well as we do, has the combined team to help with each stage of the project, or can turn around a website project as quickly and effectively as we can.
How should I prepare long-term?
If you don’t feel like your business is at that tipping point, but you want to be there (who wouldn’t?), make that your goal and work backwards to figure out what you should be doing right now. I recommend reading the book, The ONE Thing. Here is my post on how to apply this to your business.
If now isn’t the time, I would suggest focusing on building your brand, increasing profit, and planning for us to build an online home for your business that will take you to the next level.
In the meantime, please sign up for our newsletter, where I provide all kinds of help and ideas for improving your business and website.
How should I prepare for a project next year?
If you feel ready, how exciting! We would love to help. Making your little business into a “big little” business is our favorite thing. Our work is transformative, and you won’t believe how legit you’ll be when we’re done.
1) Understand what to expect from the site
Our work is not a magic bullet that can make a failing business succeed. Our websites don’t come with built-in traffic. Aeolidia is here to provide a faster car to people who are already great drivers. Learn what a custom website will and won’t do for you.
2) Get in touch with us
We are often booked many months in advance, so make sure you talk to us early on. We will make a plan for you, get you on our schedule, and give you homework to ensure that your project is as successful as it can be.
3) Prepare for a marketing strategy
Your new brand identity and website will give you new opportunities. You can confidently reach out to publications and stores that you may have been intimidated about approaching in the past. You need to make the most of your professional new look by knowing how to reach out and making a sustainable plan for doing so regularly. If you don’t have someone on your team to do this, we offer marketing consultations as part of our service.
4) Prepare your content
Homework, we say? You want this website to sell! We don’t do the “silk purse out of a sow’s ear” thing. Meaning, we can’t build an effective website with poor photography or boring product descriptions. The most successful website projects are work for us and work for you, too. This isn’t a task you can hand off, put out of your mind, and return to find a perfect website waiting for you.
Here is what we need before beginning our work:
- The text and photography you would like to see on the homepage of your site. We will help you with strategy here, and you can hire our copywriter and our product photographer to take care of both of these.
- Text and photography for the information pages of your site. This is your “about” page, your “stores” page, your “contact” page, even boring but necessary pages such as your returns/exchanges policy and terms and conditions. Our copywriter is great at turning your lists of information into flowing paragraphs that will sell your work.
- A list of your shop collections. These are the categories your products fall into, which allow customers to browse your offerings. These don’t need to be final, and we will help with user-friendliness.
- A list of informational pages and links. What pages will you want on your site? What information do you need to share, and how will you break it up? Our article about creating a site map is helpful here.
- Your product photography. This needs to do the job of selling your work when people can’t pick your product up in person and get a good look at it. Poor product photography is going to kill your site. If you’re in doubt about your photographs, Jen on our team will style and photograph your items for you. She can do the white background shots you want for your product detail page as well as the hero shots showing your products off for the home page.
- Your product descriptions. In the same way that your photos are the next best stand-in for holding your products in person, your product descriptions are your next best stand-in for you getting to talk to your customer about your products. Make these interesting! Jena has some tips for you here, and our copywriter is excellent at this.
- Plans for payment, shipping methods, inventory management, and accounting. We can help with the details, but you’ll need a good idea of your broad plans for each of these things. Do you need a merchant account? Are you all set to start shipping orders yourself, or have you hired a fulfillment company? What about a POS system to link your ecommerce shop with your brick and mortar? Do you need to sync your online orders with an existing accounting software or are you in the market for something new?
A prepared business is a happy business!
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