7 Tips to Make Your Website Profitable and help you get out of your own way - by Christine Tremoulet http://ChristineTremoulet.com

7 Tips to Make Your Website Profitable

7 Tips to Make Your Website Profitable and help you get out of your own way - by Christine Tremoulet http://ChristineTremoulet.com

Alternate Titles: The Latest Redesign Isn’t Much of a Redesign At All; The Bullshit Stories I Tell Myself; Flying Unicorns do NOT drop Glitter Sparkle Magic Dust on Your Business; The Power of a Profitable Website; Make Your Blog Get Back to Work.

I know, those don’t make any sense yet. They will.

I have a confession: I set myself up to fail some days. I mean, this is never an intentional decision – I do not LIKE to fail – but I still self-sabotage a bit some days. You know what I mean?

I’ve been trying to be more mindful when it happens, so that I can then analyze if what I think is a problem in my business really is one, or if I’m just blocking myself.

My most recent blockade that I set up for myself? Thinking I had to completely redesign my website.

My website, as it was, was perfectly fine. It looked good, and it functioned great. No problems there. My problem was it didn’t look JUST RIGHT.

I’ve been down this road before. Matter of fact, I recently read one of my first blog posts back in May, 2000 and I mentioned in the post that I needed to merge sites, and it really needed a different design. 15+ years later, and the story is still the same.

Owning a website is a lot like being a homeowner. I didn’t like the color on the walls in the living room, but instead of going and buying a can of paint? I was ready to tear it all down and build a completely new house.

This is not a realistic response.

I have never caught before that I do this to myself. This time? I had to make myself stop and think about it. Dig in. What was really happening here?

What is the Pattern when I Create this Block for Myself?

Every time I use this excuse to block myself from moving forward in my business, I do the exact same thing — I start to hunt for a new website theme. I spend hours pouring over options. Making lists. I then end up messaging my (very patient) friends to get their feedback on them. After that, I sometimes even ask on Facebook for feedback from more people.

The reality? I’m scared sometimes, and when that happens I’m operating from a place of fear. I’m afraid to be seen, to be heard. I’m afraid that no one will notice me. I’m looking for someone to just tell me what to do.

I want to make it easier on myself. To make it so that I do not have to decide. I hate making decisions. Simultaneously, I insist on controlling the decision. Yeah, it is a little confusing for me too.

Processing Through My Block

One thing I know about myself is that I work things out by talking through them. So I end up weighing things; voicing my opinions on what is not good for me, or offering up alternatives that are good for me. All help me to articulate what I’m looking for in reality. This time, my husband Mike suggested that I draw out what I wanted. That helped me start to get focused; it gave me a super clear direction to go.

At that point, I gave myself two days to find a theme I liked. I narrowed it down to three, and then wrote to the support teams about them to ask if certain features existed.

Moving Forward with My Website

I finally narrowed it down to a new theme! YAY!!! I installed the theme and I jumped right in to make changes.

Then it hit me – finding images and writing copy was going to take me a lot of time. Logical as can be, but something I had not thought of until that very moment. Pictures and words don’t magically appear on your website, after all.

I realized I did NOT have time for that. It was not serving my business or myself. What the HELL was I doing?

I looked back at the sketch I had made. An idea finally started to come together, and I realized that just spending an hour or two on my current website would allow me create something quite close to my original vision – close enough – without that much of a time investment.

There was one more thing that was even more important though: changing my website design was not going to impact the bottom line of my business profits. NOT ONE BIT.

This is the lie that we tell ourselves! We say that if only our website design was perfect, or if our copy on our site was dreamy, THEN our businesses could be great.

Know what makes your business great? Getting it OUT THERE and in front of your ideal people.

Your ideal clients? They don’t give a crap about which theme you are using! They don’t care if your copy is perfectly tweaked and super dreamy! They do not care if unicorns fly overhead and drop glitter sparkle dust all over everything. That is not why they choose to work with you!

7 Easy Tips to Make Sure you Have a Profitable Website

So no more flying unicorns with glitter sparkle. No more bullshit stories about how if your site looks perfect, or just like your competition’s site, then and only then will your business finally take off.

Here is what REALLY matters when it comes to your website:

  1. Is your site functional? Do the graphics load, is it fast, are the links working? Fix anything that is broken. Hire someone to help if needed, you don’t have to DIY. There are only so many hours in the day. Once you have these essentials fixed, move on down the list.
  2. Can your clients find what they are looking for easily? If I start on your home page, can I find out more about you? Can I find what programs or products you are offering? Do you use terms that are familiar to me for your navigation, or are you using phrases that you felt were charming and creative, but leave me hunting all over just for your product or services? Yeah. Don’t make it hard for me. Think about the path you want me to take, and then set your navigation on your site up to match it. Use dropdowns where needed to keep it from being too cluttered. Ditch pages that are not truly essential.
  3. Are your offerings clearly worded and easy me to understand? If you want me to hire you, I need to know what you’re selling, especially the benefits of why I should have it. Give me all the information I need to make a decision! Don’t spend too much time on making the words all perfectly fancy and optimized to the hilt at first; once you are making some money, you can hire an expert to do these things for you. Just get me to where I know what you have, how much it costs (if you want to share that), and how I can get it. Which brings me to…
  4. Is there a way to contact you if I want to know more? If you’re putting all sorts of great stuff on your website, awesome. Do I have to hunt you down to talk to you though? If it isn’t easy, I’ll just move on to the next website on my list. Keep it simple!
  5. Are you providing valuable content that entices me to come back for more? Are you sharing your stories? Your wisdom? Your knowledge? WRITE A BLOG POST ALREADY! You are the expert here! You need to tell me that. You can have the most basic, minimalist website in the world, and if the content is GREAT, I will return over and over again. Content is Queen! (I know some people say Content is King, but women use thousands more words in a day than men according to research, so that makes Content the Queen in my book!)
  6. Do you have a way for me to get on your email list so that you can reach me in the future? You may say that pop-ups are annoying, but I grew my email list by 600 people the first month I had a pop-up and a great offer. SIX HUNDRED people. People that were engaged, and kept coming back for more. Even if you don’t have a pop-up on your website, have links to a list somewhere. Give them a chance to stay in touch.
  7. Are you actually telling people that you have a business and that they can work with you? This is a really, really big one. Are you telling me that I can hire you? Are there calls to action throughout your site? Get on that. Start speaking up and actually telling me why I should work with you. I can’t hear what you don’t say!

Your Profit Margin and Your Website

Now if your website totally sucks and you wouldn’t ever want anyone to see it or to know it belongs to you? Yes. Then you should redesign it. That was not the case for me. My website was solidly in a state of “Good Enough.”

It makes more sense for my business to start making money with what I have and then down the road hire a designer to make my perfect dream a reality. I am NOT generating income for my business when I am working on my website. That does not serve me or my business.

Remember: if your business isn’t making a profit, it isn’t a business. It is an expensive hobby.

I’ve pulled out the website block in my own business. Yes, I spent 2-3 hours moving some things around the other day, changing out my header, adding things to my sidebar. I have a few more changes I would like to make still, but they will happen when they happen – my business is not going to wait on them. I’m going to move forward. I’m going to focus more on sending people here, on working with them, on providing solutions to their problems, and on making money.

Your blog WILL help you dominate your market. It is the content on your site that helps you do that, not the design. Focus where it matters first.

What Are Your Road Blocks? Why Did You Put Them There?

Do you have something standing in your way? Keeping you from moving forward? Is it a flying unicorn with glitter sparkles excuse of what you need to have … and if only you had THAT thing then surely you would be successful?

What is that unicorn really hiding from you? What is the bullshit excuses you are telling yourself?

Are you tapping in to your (already existing) personal brand? Do you know why it matters? By Christine Tremoulet on http://ChristineTremoulet.com

Tapping In to Your (Already Existing) Personal Brand To Grow Your Business Online

It is time to embrace your already existing personal brand. Yes, you have a personal brand, even if you have never thought about it before. Even if you think the whole thing personal branding is a bunch of crap.

You are a walking, talking, living, breathing personal brand.

Are you tapping in to your (already existing) personal brand? Do you know why it matters? By Christine Tremoulet on http://ChristineTremoulet.com

Head Marketer for Brand YOU

“Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” – Tom Peters, Fast Company Magazine (“A Brand Called You”)

Even though this article came out originally in print back in 1997, you should read it. It is FASCINATING.

Your personal brand is who you are, and what other people think of when they think of you. Your control over it is limited by what you put out there, but your personal brand is also impacted by what other people reflect back and say to you – or about you when you are not around. This impacts you whether you are an entrepreneur or working at a company job. It doesn’t matter, you have a personal brand.

Reading this article had me looking back to the time when I first figured out the power of having a Personal Brand, even if I didn’t have a name for it; blogging was still in the earliest stage and companies had not yet embraced doing it, so the internet was still full of digital pioneers creating original content. Social Media was also in its infancy as we know it. Facebook was just starting, along with Twitter. Instagram and Pinterest were still years away.

It was already becoming obvious that things were changing.

Finding the Power of My Personal Brand

The first time I realized this power of my personal brand online was when I was working for a web design company as a web consultant. I had a personal blog, and my employer would not allow me to mention the company name on it. He even asked me to remove my link to the company in the sidebar. Out of nowhere one day, I received an email. The woman that wrote to me had been a reader my personal blog for some time, and she liked how my site was designed. She worked for SeaWorld, and they were going to be redesigning their website — and she was inviting me and the company I worked for to respond to their private RFP call.

She sought ME out.
Not the company I worked for, but ME.
Because she liked my PERSONAL blog.
Liking it, she knew she would like the company I worked for as well.

At least that was the mental leap she made. It is the mental leap MOST people make. It is a pretty obvious link.

She brought SeaWorld to us.
All from my personal blog.

My boss was freaking out, he was so excited. There were only 3 other companies invited to submit a proposal. We were the underdogs, and would have never even had the invitation if it wasn’t for my personal brand. Needless to say, he finally saw the power of my personal blog, and he sheepishly asked me if I could go ahead and link to the company on my sidebar after all.

(We were the underdogs, and not a full-service advertising agency that they were looking for. We submitted a solid proposal to them, but we did not offer everything that they needed us to have in-house, and we did not get the work in the end. It was still a total Sally Field, “OMG it is just an honor to be nominated” moment for us.)

I think the fact that it was my BLOG that played such a key roll in all of this is important to note. Twitter flies by so fast, and Facebook actually hides posts over time. Pinterest now has their smart feed. Instagram has limitations as well. Your blog? It needs to be at the center of your focus. It is the library, the place full of all knowledge of you, where your future clients can easily browse all of it. I’m not sure that this (and many similar events that have taken place over my 15 years of blogging) would have ever happened through Social Media alone.

Was I Doing Anything Special to Build my Personal Brand?

Nope. Nada. Zilch. I was not doing anything special to have a personal brand. Matter of fact, back at that point in time, blogs did not have the niche factor that they have today. You wrote about whatever you wanted to talk about. Want to talk about what you had for lunch? Brilliant. Want to post a photo from your vacation? Gorgeous. Want to write a long, drawn out post on your thoughts on the latest blog software in the middle of it all? Sounds good.

It was all you, all the time.

Since my blog was named BigPinkCookie, it was, of course, pink. Pink & black has always been one of my favorite color combinations. There was a photograph of me in my sidebar, along with a brief bio, because I wanted you to know who was doing the writing. From there? I just poured out whatever I felt like talking about that day. Sometimes multiple times a day. After all, we didn’t have Twitter or Facebook yet.

I did it instinctively. I shared me. I didn’t plot out my Personal Brand – I just lived it. I didn’t care if people would like it or not; some people only read my site once, and others were devoted daily readers.

(I miss those days of blogging, like many others, and I am dreaming of ways to reclaim that feeling. More frequent posts here are at the top of that list.)

Your Personal Brand – Online

We are much wiser than we were back in 2005 when that post came out. We have learned that anything thing that we put out there online will stick with us forever. (I mean, I hope you have learned that. You do realize that, right?)

Some people would say that you can then curate your life. I agree, in part – after all, if you stage your house for your Pinterest photo shoot and it normally is a hot mess, you’re probably going to hide that hot mess part from me. Society has always had things that are considered taboo, things that you just don’t talk about. They have shifted dramatically in the past 40 years, and things once taboo are normal to us now; we have just replaced them with new taboos in our Perfection Culture.

The important lesson here is to bring the PERSONAL back in to YOUR Brand.

As a service-based entrepreneur, WHO you are matters more than your products when your clients are choosing you. They want to know who they are working with. They want to know what you love, and why you love it. Not just in your work, but in your life.

The more touchpoints that you give them to connect, the deeper that connection can be.

By living, you already are a Personal Brand.

Show it off. Tell the world. Give them a reason to love you, allow them to know you. Tell them your story. Not just the big grand moments, but the small daily ones.

As humans, we connect the most deeply over our non-critical flaws. Our quirks. Our passions.

If you’re trying to be all business all the time, it does not benefit you. If a client has three options, with reviews, price, and quality of work all the same? The thing that will impact their decision the most is the personal connection. Who do they like? That person will win the job. They will even find a way to pay MORE for them if they can.

Are you giving your potential clients the chance to like YOU?

Your personal brand already exists. Are you tapping in to it? Making the most of it? I can find so much out about you online if I want to as it is; are you taking advantage of that power and using it to your advantage?

Want to read more? Check out these posts:

XOXO - Christine Tremoulet


PS – The photograph above is from my May 2015 trip through Sedona, Arizona. Part of my own personal brand is my *love* of travel. You will be seeing more of it here, along with posts about my recent design changes.

Change Your Business: Take Advantage of the Power of Storytelling on Your Blog. New post from Christine Tremoulet.

Change Your Attitude, Change Your Business

I have had this conversation more times than I can count recently. It takes place in a number of different forms, but at the core it is always the same.

There is a huge change that you want to have happen in your life.

However, you are not willing to change anything yourself in order to make it happen.

Then you’re annoyed and frustrated because things didn’t work out for you.

Changes? They don’t just happen magically.

That may seem really obvious, but if you stop and think about it? How many times have you expected magic changes to take place in your life? In your business? In how things work?

Change Your Business: Take Advantage of the Power of Storytelling on Your Blog. New post from Christine Tremoulet.

I first woke up to this fact when I realized that approaching dieting from a place of punishment was never going to be successful for me. It isn’t something I just do for a month or two and then I get to return to my former way of eating.

(Logical, right? Yet it took me like 20 years to figure it out.)

If You Want Blogging to Help Your Business, You Have to Write

As I work with my coaching clients, when blogging to help grow their business comes up, I get a push back that is similar to my old attitude about dieting.

“I tried it. It never worked for me, so why even bother?!”

Then we dig in. What did they think about blogging? How did they approach it? Was it about sharing their stories, their thoughts? Their feelings about why they were in the business they were in, or even about their every day life?

No. For most people, it was just about talking about their services.

“I did my job for my client, and here are the results.”

“I now offer these services, here is why you should hire me.”

“I am launching a new product / course / class / coaching program, you really need it for these reasons.”

Take Advantage Storytelling on your Business Blog

Think of the blog posts that you enjoy reading. Are they dry and boring? Not likely. Seriously, no one wants to read that crap.

Turn it around. Change it.

Blogging isn’t a punishment. It is an opportunity! You started your business because you LOVE what you do, right? Blogging is the chance to share your stories with people that are interested in YOU and why you do it!

Since the beginning of the human race, we have used the power of stories. Stories are how we share the knowledge that we have with other people.

Use your blog to GIVE those stories to your readers. Give them what they need to say to pass their knowledge about you along to others.

You could bury your stories in your social media posts on a daily basis – or you can put them on your blog. Do you know which one is better for your business in the long run? Your BLOG. Twitter flies too fast. Facebook actually hides posts if they do not receive enough engagement, even from you! (Try it. I posted things within the past month or two that are not showing up on my Facebook page anymore.) Instagram is pretty, but most people will not scroll beyond the first 6 or 7 rows of photos.

Blogging is the SEO darling. I receive traffic on blog posts I wrote 5 years ago. More than that, if someone is really interested in working with me? They will dig. They will go through archives, suggested posts, categories and tags. They will bounce around my site. They will read, and read.

When I first talk to my clients? They often tell me about posts that they read on my site. They tell me my OWN STORIES. Often they add in how they found me because a friend told them about me. Sometimes a past client, but not always. I’ve also been told how a friend sent them a link, knowing that I would be a perfect fit for them.

It is OK to be Vulnerable

It is ok to be vulnerable. I know, it is scary. In the end? People work with people that they like.

If it comes down to you and two others offering the same products, and all three of you priced in about the same price range? What makes you stand out is what will matter the most at that point. You, and the personal stories you have shared. The things that make you unique. That is why blogging helps you dominate your market.

Be authentically you on your blog. Throw in some personality. Include your stories for the world to read, in the space that YOU control. No longer at the whim of Facebook algorithm changes, or the speed of Twitter and Instagram.

Your blog. All you. Change how you view it, and it will change everything for you.

You’ve got this. I know you can do it – I am here cheering you on!

Have Questions? I’ve Got Answers!

Leave a comment with any questions you might have on blogging for your business. I want to help you with this. All you have to do is ask.

The photograph is this post is from my the most amazing sunset that I experience last week at the Grand Canyon. More on that soon.

Cohesive Closet - from Rubbermaid

Would You Want to Wear Your Website? Branding Thoughts

If I took your website and made an outfit out of it, and told you to wear it, would you be willing to put it on?

Right now, if I went to my closet and picked out an outfit, there is a very good chance that it would involve me wearing either a black top or something with black & white stripes. I’d then add a colorful scarf for a shot of color in there. My website? Based entirely on those colors in my closet. Matter of fact, in my photo for my avatar? I’m wearing a black & white top – with jeans, and my Kate Spade gold glitter Keds.

This website needs more Kate Spade gold glitter Keds influence.

Otherwise, I’d be more than willing to put it on and wear it around.

Cohesive Closet - from Rubbermaid

This is not my closet. I can never wear that much orange and yellow. Isn’t it pretty though?

How to Pick Your Colors for Branding Your Business

So often, I see people asking about colors, and branding, and trying to be strategic in which ones they should go with to represent themselves. The thing is, if you’re a solo entrepreneur – you are your brand, and your brand is YOU – you’re not trying to be all things to all people.

You are not Coca Cola or Nike in your strategy. You do not need to be worried about red creates urgency while blue creates trust. If you hate blue? You should skip it!

Why?

Because you need to be YOU online. You need to brand YOU so that you build trust around who you are, and what you are about.

Your wardrobe? The easiest place to go to find what speaks to you.

If you’re willing to wear it, you should reflect it in your YOU Brand.

You want there to be a fluidness between what people experience when they get to know you online and when they meet up with you in person. That is what builds trust for you.

I didn’t always do this. Matter of fact, for awhile there I used these lovely blush pink notecards for client notes, and I matched the header graphic on my website to that color. They matched a couch that I had my my former photography studio. They were very “boudoir” in color. I paired them with dark gray and gold accents. I wear dark gray from time to time, and I have those gold glitter shoes, but that shade of pink? If I tried to wear it I would just fade away. Think somewhere between blush & bashful. Very much not a color in my wardrobe.

I then tried to transition to dark yellow & dark gray. Oh goodness. Even less “me” which is probably why that redesign lasted only a few months. Oops.

Once I became clear & confident about who I am and what I stand for – and what I wear? The rest of it all fell in to place pretty naturally.

Hopefully this helps you out the next time you go to choose colors or a design for your online presence! Bring YOU throughout it all, and you can never go wrong!

Want to Know More?

For a limited time, I’m doing FREE Brand You Confidence Discovery Calls! Set one up for yourself and we will talk about how you can bring more YOU in to your branding and your business online! If you miss getting a call now, don’t worry – get on the email list and I’ll send out an email the next time I have spaces available!

Orange closet photo by Rubbermaid, via Creative Commons.

My closet

My closet. I seem to have a thing for black tops.

Tearing down another woman is fighting the wrong battle. - ChristineTremoulet.com

To the Thin Women of the World – I’m Sorry

I am just going to get this out of the way – I am not at my ideal BMI. I have to shop in the Plus section of the stores most of the time. Ok, I’ll just go ahead and say it. I am … Fat. (Ouch, that was hard.)

But that is no excuse for how I have treated you, thin women.

Weight is not a competition. There is no “WIN” in comparing myself to you.

More importantly, it is not your fault that I am fat. I apologize for all the times that I have said horrible things to you because you are thin.

My Apology to Thin Women for the Hateful things we say.

I never noticed this phenomenon until I caught myself saying it to a woman I had only met an hour or so earlier. There she was at the photo shoot, slender and with the most perfect abs I have ever seen, telling me how she had a 14 month old baby. I simply had to ask, “Oh, please tell me that you work out all the time!?”

I saw her cringe a little. She was almost apologetic as she told me no, she was just built that way. She had not worked out after the baby.

That was the moment that it happened. I felt the thickness of the words about to tumble out of my mouth. I managed to catch them in time, but the silence was awkward. It was obvious that I was about to say something. She looked puzzled.

I looked at the ground for a moment, and then I looked her in the eye.

“I just have to apologize, because what I almost said? It was that I hate you. That is not right. You don’t deserve that.”

She looked back at me, “It is ok. Thank you. You would be shocked at some of the things people say to me.”

As she told me some of those things, we both stood there and cried together.

I should have been shocked, but I wasn’t because I’m sure I have said them at some point as well to a thin woman. Completely oblivious to the pain I was causing her in hearing them. It was all about my pain, my shame of hating myself and my own body.

“Oh, you’re cold? Well … maybe you should eat a cheeseburger. Or a cookie. Put on some weight.”

“You have 5 pounds to lose? Hah! That is NOTHING! Be glad you’re so thin.”

“You’re so thin, I could snap you like a twig!”

And the worst one of all, “You’re so thin … I hate you.”

When did this become OK?!? At what point did we decide that we are allowed to look another woman in the eye and tell her that we hated her? Or that she should gain weight and doesn’t have a right to have body-image issues because she is thin?

Thin shaming is just as bad for women’s body image as fat shaming. Both are wrong.

Over the past few years, I’ve talked to a number of other thin women about this topic. It is something that they are experiencing on a regular basis. Some have told me their stories about how they thought it would change when they grew up, how they never expected that it would continue in to adulthood. How in ways, it is worse now because they can no longer excuse it is a playground taunt.

Everyone wants to be thin, but we vilify the women that actually ARE.

We make them outcasts. Women bond over how much we hate our bodies, the latest diet that we are on, how we will simply never have thigh gap. If you’re thin? We act as if you have no right to be a part of the tribe. You have hit it. You reached the goal we all desperately long to attain, if only we would make the life changes to get there.

So many of the messages today about being body positive are actually talking about accepting your PLUS size body. Embrace the Curves. Eff your beauty standards. Love me as I am!!! No one should say that they are fat. Love yourself no matter what your size. Stop hating your body.

But here is the reality: if we are talking about being body positive, thin women are a part of this conversation as well. Love yourself at any size? At any size means at a size 00 or a size 30.

Tearing down another woman is fighting the wrong battle. - ChristineTremoulet.comWe do not get to exclude them in this conversation. Thin women have every right to struggle with the same issues. Being Body Positive can not have a size tag attached to it.

It is time that we stop attacking the thin women of the world. Tearing another woman down is fighting the wrong battle.

I will never again tell another woman that I hate her because of how thin she is, how fabulous her hair is, how wonderful her life may be compared to mine. It is time we pull this hateful language from our vocabulary.

I would like to be the first in line to say it:

To the thin women, I AM SORRY. I see you, and I hear you, and I embrace you – exactly as you are. Come, join the conversation. Be a part of the circle. You have every right to be here.

My apology to the thin women of the world. I see you, and I hear you. Come join the conversation. You deserve to be a part of it.