By Anh-Minh Le
As a freelance journalist, one of the things that I look for when brainstorming a new story idea is: Does this person/company that I’m interested in have a website? And if there isn’t a website, I tend to turn my attention elsewhere. That’s because I rely on websites to provide background and contact information, as well as other relevant details like services and past/current projects.
Customers trying to find new vendors and services are often the same. In this day and age, having an online presence lends credibility to your business. It may be the first impression that you make on a potential customer that you worked hard to reach. And regardless of whether you’re a one-person operation or manage a team, putting the time and effort into creating a website gives the impression that you are a true professional.
Although it can be simple, make sure your website looks nice. It should be easy to read and click around. (Website-building companies, such as Squarespace and Go Daddy, usually offer templates.) Here are some of the basics that should be included on your website:
- Who are you? Let customers know why you’re the best person for the job. Mention your work experience, years in the industry, hours of availability (especially if you’re available for emergency services), and perhaps past employers they may have heard of (and will be impressed by).
- If your work requires entering a home, this is a good place to start earning a customer’s trust so that they feel comfortable hiring you. If you are licensed and/or insured, highlight this fact.
- What kind of work do you perform? This can be just a list of the services that you offer. For example, if you’re a plumber, your list might include: dishwashers, faucet repairs, frozen pipes, garbage disposals, leak repairs, sewers, sump pumps, toilets, water heaters.
- In some cases – for instance, if you’re a gardener, house painter, or carpenter – including photos of your past work will be beneficial. Let them see what you’re capable of!
- Do others recommend you? Ask some of your satisfied customers to provide testimonials that you can share on your website. They don’t have to be long. The point is to promote a solid reputation and reassure potential customers that you can get the job done right.
- How do they contact you? This may seem like a no-brainer. But in addition to including the best ways to reach you, make sure that whatever methods you provide – email, phone, text – that you can actually respond quickly to them. Otherwise, the customer may (wrongly) assume that you don’t want their business and go elsewhere.
While a website allows potential customers to learn more about you, it can also help them find you to begin with. Remember, most people search online when they have service needs. Purchasing a domain (or URL) and maintaining a website is fairly inexpensive and easy these days. If your marketing budget is tight, it’s a great way to maximize your money. And isn’t that always a good thing for business?