What Kind of Website Do You Need?

If you're writing to sell (to beyond family and friends), whether it's books, info products or services, just about everyone would agree that a website is a must. However, what kind of website do you need? Maybe you've never thought much about it, figuring a website is a website, but I'm here to tell you that's no longer the case.

Here's what I mean and what you need to consider:
Until relatively recently, most people have had what are called "brochure sites", you may be included. Basically, it's an online version of a paper brochure. Lots of pictures and info, not particularly interactive.

However, unless your product is purely visual (like art), and you're expecting to sell, your site needs to engage your visitors and move them through the buying cycle. Also, contrary to what many believe, it doesn't have to be particularly pretty, and it doesn't need to be complex in order to accomplish this.

What it does need to do is: Engage your visitors, give them what they're looking for and motivate them to either 1. start a relationship with you (i.e. sign up for a newsletter) 2. make a purchase 3. or move on because they aren't your target audience. It needs to represent you and do the job you would otherwise do in person if you speak with someone face to face.

It's a simple concept really-do you want a cyber knick-knack that sits in it's place looking pretty for your visitors, or a business tool you can count on to do the job it's intended to do?

Have questions, thoughts, comments? I'm looking forward to reading them.

Cheryl Pickett


nwriter said...

I've just been offered a web content assignment. The person concerned just wanted the type of brochure you mentioned. I've yet to meet the client.
I personally feel that it is only ethical to edcuate the client about the tremendous mktg. potential of websites.Some of them feel that a website is necessary as a fax machine would be! Nothing could be further from the truth.
This is digressing, but right now I'm puzzled. How should I charge for webconent? How should I invoiceit? Should I ask for advance?
Please help!

Cheryl Pickett said...

Hi nwriter,
Firt, I'm glad you understand the value of sites and of the role you can play in making one successful. Good for you!

Next, I also agree that if you have information you believe would help someone, it's wrong to withhold unless you are prevented from sharing. Feel out the customer, if they're open to learning, give them whatever you feel is appropriate. If they don't want info, treat them like an editor, give them what they want and do your best, even if it isn't your favorite type of work.

As far as charging, my first suggestion is, if you haven't already, establish business policies so that you can treat everyone equally. In additon yes, get something up front. I know plenty of people who've delivered first, asked for pay later (including myself) who have experienced lots of issues.
Negotiate when appropriate, but if you have business standards, a fellow business owner should understand and respect this. They have their ways too. If they don't, you have a decision to make. If you feel you need to walk away, and you are able (based on losing the income or not), don't be afraid to do so.

What to charge is trickier. You can look at other writer's sites for comparisons, consider effort involved, and what you want to make. You can go with custom quotes or set up a per project flat rate. Either way, make a policy about revisions so you don't get stuck that way either.

Hope it all works out for you.

nwriter said...

hi Cheryl,
Thanks for the advice, I really appreciate the promptness.
The well fed commercial writer newsletter is sure to have something that can help me out.
I will definitely keep in mind what you have advised, and try to inform the client ofthe myriad mktg. oppurtunities of a personal website.
Meanwhile, how does one rate a website? What are the factors that one should keep in mind

Cheryl Pickett said...

Hi nwriter,
There are a variety of ways to accomplish the three main points in my first post, and those are some overall goals to reach for.

I don't want to take this blog too far to the web side, but you're welcome to send me a note through my site www.publishinganswers.com. I'd be happy to give you you a couple more tips that way.

nwriter said...

hi Cheryl,
What Kind of Website Do You Need was really helpful.
Engaging a person is ofcourse very important.
It could be difficult too!

Online Book Promotions said...

I would love your opinions on a website I just created for Author John Saint John for his book Tunnel of Light... www.TunnelofLight.info

Any comments would be much appreciated. My email is info@FreeThoughtProject.com

Thanks, and it is nice to see so many people helping each other better promote themselves online.