Your online presence is like your living room (or reception desk, if you’re feeling formal) on the internet. It’s the very first impression many of your clients, collaborators and contacts will have of you and your business, and it’s crucial that it’s clear, welcoming and on-brand.
You know you have a brilliant business which makes a real difference to your customers and clients – whether it’s the beautiful thing you make, or the service you provide which makes their life nicer, business easier, or problem less thorny.
But does your online presence back this up, and is it obvious to a newcomer what you do? You’d be surprised how often the answer isn’t a clear yes.
When your life and business are intertwined, and you know your business as well as you know yourself, it can be really hard to take a step back and look at it from the viewpoint of someone who has only just discovered you.
Here are my top tips to make your online presence better:
Consistent, decent profile picture
Yes, I’m going there first! Your profile picture or headshot is one of your most important assets in business, as it works both as a first impression, and also as a way for people to recognise you across different platforms.
Mine is the same across all social and professional networks, and it’s the same image that’s splashed across my website homepage – which makes it much easier for people to clock subconsciously who they’re reading posts and content from.
Consistency is important but quality is crucial – if you can afford to get professional headshots done, please do (I run Glorious Headshot Days on location and in Studio 19, so if you don’t fancy a full session or you hate having your photo taken, that’s a painless option!)
If you can’t yet, make sure the photo you’re using is clear and of just you – you don’t really want to represent your business with a photo which has your husband / best friend / ex half cropped out. Truly.
Bio / headline impact and consistency
Can you tell there’s going to be a bit of a theme here?! Consistency reassures people so it’s important even if it sounds dull.
Most platforms (excepting your website, which we’ll talk about separately in a minute) have the option for a few lines of bio,or a headline so you can tell people what you do.
It’s worth taking the time to craft this, as you’re often working with a character limit and you want to get the most impact possible. Attention spans online are incredibly short, so the more you can snag people’s interest, the better.
These don’t have to be identical across platforms, but they should be consistent enough to give recognition – so that people who don’t yet know you in real life can see from the tone and content that it’s you. It all helps to build the know, like and trust which is so important to buying decisions.
Social media banners
Most platforms have a banner or header area where you can fit a bigger image than your profile picture. Use this space to make a splash! You could have your logo, or your tagline there, or you could feature a testimonial or short video.
Don’t forget about the banner on your personal profiles too, especially on Facebook, which gives your business visibility among people who might not follow your business page.
You might also fancy signing up for about.me, especially if you are a fellow multipod and have multiple online presences and projects. It’s a free one page site with a customisable address, and lets you add links, information and a photo. The paid version allows testimionials, videos and all sorts, so it’s worth checking out.
Let’s talk about links
If you’re online anywhere other than your own site, chances are you’re trying to drive traffic to your site (or Etsy shop, or wherever it is you make your sales from). And sometimes you’ll want them to go to a specific page or product, not just land on your homepage.
But when each platform has different rules and ways of displaying links, how do you keep this consistent? (oh look, there’s that word again!)
The best way I’ve found is to create a page on your website with a series of buttons, and use that as the link. So for example, carlawatkins.com/start-here looks like this:
If you can’t or don’t want to do this on your website, you can achieve something similar with external sites Linktree and Indemandly.
Linktree looks a lot like the example above, and gives you a single URL to share. Indemandly lets you add pictures and messaging to the functionality of that link, which you can see on our Ink Drops one: inkdropsbox.indemand.ly
Well, we had to get there eventually, didn’t we?! The heart of your online presence is your website – it’s your space, and it should reflect you, your business and your values.
Your two most important pages are your homepage and your about page. Both are about your client as much as about your service or product, and both should be written in a way which makes it crystal clear:
- WHAT you do
- WHO you do it for
- HOW it helps / improves / solves
If your potential clients and customers have found their way to your site, they are interested in what you do and it’s your website’s job to show them how well you’d fit the bill.
Visuals are even more important here than they are on your socials and other channels. Stock images are great to get you started, but using bespoke photos of you doing your business thing is a much quicker way to show your prospective clients why you are the obvious choice.
If you’re a product based business selling online, or using online as a channel to attract wholesale buyers, your photos are what you have to create an emotional response in your buyer – one that makes them overcome any objections and click the buy button.
Again, consistency is your watchword – high quality photos, graphics and visuals which truly reflect you and what you make or do, which tell your story and fit your brand.
If you have a bit of time on your hands, now is an ideal time to go through your older content and make sure it’s accurate, reflects who you now are, and fits your brand voice.
Does it have appropriate images, and does it tie in with your current business goals? The acid test is whether you’re still happy sharing it.
When creating your new content, make sure you’re thinking of your clients first – so what do they want to hear, what do they want to see? What would most resonate with them?
Ok, now you have a nice actionable list of things to make your web presence better… go go go!