The Back Story
I started Share Your Story Media to empower very small business owners and independent professionals to share their stories online by making it easy and affordable to get a website up and running. After being in business for awhile now, I’ve noticed a few places where my clients get stuck.
Mostly, my clients are looking for something simple. In reality, I’m competing with hosted services like Squarespace and Weebly, which offer a very streamlined service for setting up a website. While these services are a good choice for some business owners and bloggers, I do not believe these services work for everyone.
Why? Services like Weebly, Wix and Squarespace are like setting up shop in leased space. Basically you are renting space on their platform, which is proprietary. You can’t change it. The functionality of your website is limited to what these services provide. In short, your website might not be able to grow with your business. But, they do make getting and maintaining a website relatively straight forward and affordable.
WordPress – A Brief Intro
If you want to own your site, then you probably need a self-hosted website. What does this mean? This means you put all the parts and pieces together to get the website up and running, or you hire someone to do it for you. In other words, instead of just leasing space on the internet on somebody else’s website system, you build your own space on the internet.
Now, if you want a self-hosted website, you need to do some leg work. First, you need to buy a domain, or website address. This is like buying your land in a way. Second, you need to get a web hosting service, which is kind of like the infrastructure that connects you to the internet and lets people find you. Third, you need a system or application for building your website. WordPress is one of those building applications.
WordPress is technically a content management system, which is a software application to manage digital content. The cool thing about WordPress is that it is open source, meaning its programming code is public. Anyone can download it for free from WordPress.org. (Not to be confused with WordPress.com, which is a service similar to Squarespace or Weebly). Therefore, anyone can write secondary applications called plugins to add new functionality to WordPress. Additionally, anyone can design themes, which are the design templates for websites built on WordPress.
Building with WordPress
If you build a self-hosted website on WordPress, you can build just about anything you want. While WordPress runs almost 30% of all websites out there, small business owners often shy away from using it. For many, setting up a WordPress website is just too confusing or too time consuming.
I think that’s too bad. In my opinion, WordPress is one of the best tools out there for building a website. With WordPress, you can start with a simple website that grows with your business. Or, you can build a super complicated website with all sorts of functionality. Similarly, you can choose a completely designed theme, design your own theme, or customize an existing theme.
Because I believe so strongly in the power of WordPress, I wanted to simplify using it while also keeping it affordable to hire someone to help you. So I started to think about where clients stumble and what’s confusing them. Also, I started to think about what I like doing the most and what I’m good at, and where all those ideas intersect. The solution was delivering a simpler process for designing and building WordPress websites.
The New Services Line Up
I wanted to simplify the steps where I noticed my clients were getting stuck:
- First, clients sometimes stumbled while getting their website hosting set up. So, I looked for a way I could do that for them.
- Second, I saw clients get stuck trying to figure out what they actually need for their websites. So, I created a new client intake questionnaire to walk them through that process.
- Third, clients were getting overwhelmed with all the theme and design choices WordPress offers. So, I’ve taken a little more control over the design process by recommending only a few design options to get started. Then, we go from there to select the right design for them.
- Finally, clients often struggle with keeping the website going after it’s up. So I’ve added services to help with that, too.
In order to relieve these pain points, I developed a new way to deliver my website building services. I call it WordPress Simplified. It’s basically a three step process that goes something like this:
- We have an initial consult to discuss what you want to accomplish with your website.
- You buy a domain, and you gather and write the content for the website.
- I do everything else.
Building Your Site
First, I’ll set up your hosting account at Flywheel and tell it how to find your domain name. Flywheel is a premium managed WordPress hosting service that I use to hosts this site. Because Flywheel only hosts WordPress websites, they have systems set up to make your site fast and easy to manage. For example, their interface is simple and beautiful compared to the Control Panel you find at a lot of other hosts. Also, instead of sharing space on a server, you have your own space on the server. This makes your site load a lot faster.
Second, I’ll send you 1-2 template ideas for your site. We’ll take what you like and build a template just for you. Once you approve of the design, then I’ll build you a demo site on your new account at Flywheel. Lastly, I pass on Flywheel hosting billing to you, and you have two weeks to sign up.
Third, I get to work building your site, from start to finish. I upload and format your content and optimize it for SEO. You can leave site navigation, design conformity and site functionality up to me. Before going live, we’ll test it to make sure it looks good on mobile devices. Once you’ve approved the website, I push it live. And while we’re working on the website, I’ll set up a coming soon page for your site.
Fourth, we’ll schedule a training session so I can teach you how to use your new website. I will also install training videos in your WordPress dashboard, so you can access refresher training at any time.
Maintaining Your Site
Finally, I’m also offering a monthly maintenance and update service annual plan. Just like any home owner, you need to do your own maintenance and upkeep with a self-hosted website. It’s important that you keep your site up to date for security and SEO. Additionally, you should back up your site to a location that is not on your hosting server just in case that server breaks.
My monthly maintenance service takes care of all of this for you. Here’s what I do:
- Make sure WordPress is up-to-date
- Make sure your plugins are up-t0-date
- Repair any broken links
- Make sure you have a backup system and restore backups when needed
Plus, I throw in 5 hours of content update and plugin setup work annually. Then, I’ll even give you a discounted rate for any additional time you need.
Wrapping it Up
I have done my best to keep these services as affordable as possible. While I believe in making this process as easy and as affordable as possible, I also believe you deserve a well-designed and functional website. To keep my design and building process as efficient as possible, I have decided to use certain tools and methods for building your site.
First, I build websites using one of three themes. I have spent time researching the most flexible, best performing and best built themes, and have chosen the three I believe will perform the best for you and for me. In fact, I include the premium themes for you in many cases.
Second, I design many sites with an amazing page builder, Elementor. This tool lets me design a lot quicker and without the need to hire a WordPress developer. Additionally, I believe in clean, functional designs, which are generally a little less complicated to get working. Often, I start with a predesigned template that we can customize to make it all your own.
I hope that these new services will remove some of the roadblocks you face for setting up and maintaining a WordPress website. While I obviously can’t compete with the pricing of services like Weebly and Squarespace, I can build you a site that will grow with you. Also, I can save you time and eliminate many of the design headaches of building your own site, so you can focus on what you do best and on building your business.