When I first started my web design/development business, I thought that I would do client work all day long and that would be it. I figured my time would be spent building new websites, tweaking existing pages, reworking content and layouts, and creating cohesive visual brands for my clients.
And, for a while at least, I was totally on the mark.
But it didn’t take long before I started reading blog posts from other web designer/developers and online business owners (in a variety of different niches), and I noticed that they all seemed really focused on building their email list.
To be honest though, I wasn’t sold on this. Who was I to have a newsletter? Weren’t sleazy marketers the only ones who had email lists? Was there any value for regular freelancers, online service providers, or business owners in having an email list? Would I annoy people by sending them a weekly email and turn them off my business forever? These were just a few of the hesitations I had before I started my email list.
Fast forward a few months, however, and I figured that if enough people were telling me that a certain action had a positive impact on their business, they probably aren’t all wrong. So I figured "what the heck", I’d give it a shot and start my own email list.
The verdict? It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my business.
What comes to mind when you hear the words "social media"?
Do you think about how much fun it can be to grow an audience on the platform of your choosing? How great it is to show off your products/services for free (or low cost)? How awesome it is to interact with your audience on a daily basis and see how they are engaging with your brand?
Or, on the flip side, do you get overwhelmed with how much of social media relies on pre-scheduling? Feel defeated whenever you see accounts growing faster than yours? Or get frustrated trying to maintain a picture-perfect aesthetic?
Trust me, we all experience feelings on every end of the spectrum when it comes to social media.
Social media is a powerful tool that holds an enormous amount of weight in your website's marketing efforts, but it doesn't come easy. It takes a lot of time and effort to build and maintain a strategic profile no matter which social media platform you're on.
But believe me when I tell you that social media is one of the greatest ways to drive traffic back to your website and support your business efforts. It just takes a bit of know-how!
I asked if social media growth should be a goal for my business and whether a large following was necessary to run a successful business. We covered a lot in this episode and I know you'll get lots of actionable advice in our conversation!
I was open and honest about how I've been able to grow my business up to this point without a large social media following, what strategies I've relied on instead, and how I'm going to shift things around moving forward.
When it comes to designing a website, many people overlook the importance web usability. If the goal is to make it as easy as possible for visitors to access important information, we must give a shoutout to the (under appreciated) search box. Many websites are missing a search box and this is no bueno! Luckily for you, it's a quick fix that packs a major punch.
There are two common places that visitors expect to see a search box, and that is in the footer and on the blog page. If your website doesn't have a search box yet, take this tutorial as a hint that you should add one today! It might make sense to add a search box to one or both of these locations - the choice is totally up to you and how you can best serve your audience.
This video tutorial will tell you why it's so important to have a search box on your website, and will show you how to add a search box to your site's footer and blog page.
The navigation is one of the key sections of your website because it guides visitors to valuable areas of content. It's a way for them to easily find the pages they're looking for and also gives you, the website owner, a chance to put that information directly in front of them in the simplest way possible.
You might already have a Squarespace website and want to add or remove pages from the navigation. Or perhaps you want to switch up the order of those pages in the navigation list. Alternately, you might be starting out with a brand new Squarespace website and aren't sure how to get started adding pages to your navigation and menu.
This video tutorial covers all of that and more!
Let me show you how easy it is to add and remove pages from your navigation in Squarespace.
A website is made up of so much more than just a bit of text and a few image. There's a lot of strategy involved and depending on what the goals are for your website, your website will look totally different from someone else's. Which is a good thing!
One design element that is often overlooked (but packs a major punch) is websitegraphics.
Graphics can go a long way to support your website and help form a visual identity for your brand online. Images and unique GIFs for your website or social media channels should focus on quality over quantity for best results. However, I've noticed that graphics are also something that many people get wrong. Frequent faux-pas that I see on many websites are a lack of consistency in aesthetic, sizing, branding, or that they are completely missing!
If you're looking to build and run a website that promotes your products or services and helps to generate revenue, quality graphics are necessary. And lucky for you, they are much easier to understand and create than you might think!
I've reached out to some of the industry's leading experts to make sure that you have the best advice possible when it comes to creating graphics for your website. These ladies are all powerhouses in the design field who specialize online platforms. They know their stuff and have built impressive businesses sharing their knowledge and showing their work.
One of my favourite things to read online is "behind the scenes" looks at how my peers (and other creatives) run their businesses and schedule their time. I love playing the comparison game to my own schedule, and usually find myself picking up pointers or suggestions along the way. I always get a kick out of seeing how different or similar our calendars are because just when I feel like a chicken with my head cut off, I'm reminded that we're all out here doing our best with what we have.
Those of us who freelance or run our own businesses don't always have to follow the traditional 9-5 schedule. THANK THE LORD!
Take a look at how I manage client work, business administration, and ongoing tasks while also balancing out my personal life. I break down a typical day for you so that you can peek behind the curtains to see how I work. I've also created a free printable that will help you design your day, focus on the most important tasks and get sh*t done.
I love working on Squarespace websites because they take care of SO many little details and integrations. Whether you're a DIY web designer/developer or a pro who's working on their 100+ website, there are simple steps to follow to get a website up and running in no time.
But, there are several design elements that are often overlooked by newbies since they aren't always familiar with what's involved. One of the most common things I see people forgetting to upload is the social sharing logo.
Social sharing logos are quick and easy to create, and I'll show you how to design one for free using Canva. Once you know what they are and have one designed, you can upload it to your Squarespace website in just a few clicks!
Having a social sharing logo associated with your website keeps things professional since images display correctly anytime someone shares a URL from your website. They'll cover your butt if someone shares a website that doesn't have any images, and they won't affect blog posts or products that have their own thumbnails already set up.
Let's design a social sharing logo for your Squarespace website right now!
That’s a simple question but hard to answer, right?
Personally, the way I answer depends on who is asking the question. Do they have any sort of tech background? Will they understand the type of work I do, or do they come from a completely different industry? Is it really something I want to get into? These are all things I consider before I reply.
I usually keep things super simple by saying “I build websites”. However, sometimes I’ll go a little deeper and say that I’m a web designer/developer.
This, my friends, is where I usually lose people. And if we’re being honest, it’s for good reason!
Most people aren’t familiar with how a website is made - they just know that it gets “built”. In reality, a website is a combination of web design AND web development. Sometimes the entire process can be done by one person (like me!) but depending on the complexity of the project it may be completed by several different professionals.
Today we’re going to break down the difference between web design and web development so that we’re all clear on the different roles and responsibilities that go with both parts. Whether you’re interested in starting your own project or hiring it out to someone else, this will give you a better understanding of what’s involved.
But jokes aside, I fully admit that I am NOT a minimalist. Yes, I like to keep things simple and focus on quality over quantity. But I still have stuff that I'm not ready to get rid of and I'm okay with that. I know the movement has been sweeping the world by storm, but I don’t think I’ll ever fully get behind it. That’s not to say that I’m a packrat or anything - quite the opposite - but I do know what I like and I’m not afraid to purchase it.
On my website, I share a list of all the Tools & Resources I use to run my business. I do this because I want to show everyone exactlyhow I’m able to run a lean and profitable business without a bunch of crazy things. If you haven’t checked it out already, I definitely encourage you to visit that page and take a look for yourself.
While that guide is awesome if you really want to see a “behind the scenes” look at what I use to run my business, I also wanted to share my favourite gear and items I use in other areas of my business/life.
The list below covers stuff that I use pretty much every day, both in my business AND in my personal life. I bet if it’s helpful for me, it’ll help you out too.
One of Squarespace's biggest selling points is that ALL of their websites & templates are optimized for search engines by default. This means you aren't left struggling with plugins and don't have to spend hours trying to learn the in's and out's of how to optimize your site for SEO. Nope, Squarespace takes care of all of that on the back end and it's glorious.
But did you know that there are a few quick and easy tricks that will make your Squarespace website even MORE compatible with search engine visibility?
That's right, in about as long as it'll take you to watch this video tutorial, you can be on your way to an even more SEO friendly Squarespace website. What's not to love?!
Follow these 3 (ridiculously easy) steps to make your Squarespace even more visible to search engines like Google, Yahoo, or Bing (lol) today!
Whether you work on the back end of a Squarespace site on the regular or if you only log in to make changes every once in a while, you should know these Squarespace keyboard shortcuts.
As someone who builds and manages Squarespace sites every day, I have found these 4 keyboard shortcuts super helpful! Here's how they can help you too:
Makes it easier to work on your website
Improves your overall experience on the Squarespace platform
Squarespace is a wonderful and easy-to-use platform but I know we can all benefit from learning a few useful tips to make our jobs easier! Watch the video below to see my 4 favourite Squarespace keyboard shortcuts!
Have you ever visited Squarespace's website and been overwhelmed by how many templates they have? Look at them all, there are TONS of website templates to choose from!
Here's the thing though. While there are dozens of Squarespace templates available, not all are best suited for business websites. And if that's what you're looking for, I'm here to help you sort through the available templates.
Whether you're looking to create a website for yourself or for a larger business, Squarespace has beautiful templates that you can use and customize to meet all your needs.
Let me show you my top 4 Squarespace template recommendations for business websites!
I had big plans to start this article off with a witty song lyric about making money but then so many songs came to mind that I couldn’t pick just one! So, if you want some lyrical inspiration to help you bring those dollar bills in, here’s a list of songs about making money to kick things off.
As a web designer/developer, I’m part of the freelance and contractor economy. I quit my salaried job a few years ago to go travelling, worked for a few startups, then finally branched out on my own. At this point in my career, I’ve pretty much done it all! As such, I have experienced many types of payment in exchange for my work so I know how important it is to create and follow a budget.
Freelancing can be the best job in the world, but it can also be stressful with all the ups and downs. One of the biggest learning curves that all freelancers face (no matter the industry) is how to handle irregular income. Some months you could be rolling in cash where as other months will be much leaner.
I know that money isn’t always the most popular topic to discuss with friends and co-workers so let’s get a little weird and discuss it with strangers on the internet instead!
I am a huge believer in creating and following a budget, especially as a freelancer, so I wanted to share my methods with you. Without further ado, here are four strategies I use to budget with irregular freelance income.
If you’ve ever tinkered around in Google Analytics or spent time reading up on SEO, you might have come across the term ‘bounce rate’. But, I think we can agree that it’s not exactly the easiest term to understand.
What does bounce rate mean? How do you find it? Does it affect your website’s rankings?
These are all valid questions and once you understand the metric, you’ll be able to apply it to your own website strategy.
Recently I was perusing design articles online and came across a wonderful piece about the evolution of images in a digital landscape. The article included the following quote that I want to share with you today:
You now have to decide what 'image' you want for your brand. Image means personality. Products, like people, have personalities and they can make or break them in the marketplace - David Ogilvy
David Ogilvy was a tycoon and is often credited as being the father of advertising. So yeah, he was a big deal and is a good person to take advice from.
His remarks on images are spot on and they can be applied to pretty much any industry or business type, no matter what form of images they use.
One of my favourite parts of building a website is selecting the images that will be included in the various pages. This is a hugely important step because website images cannot be overlooked. They are one of the main pillars of your overall brand identity and they greatly define how your audience perceives you (and your brand) online.
As a web designer/developer, one of the questions I’m asked all the time is how to protect and back up a website.
This is a valid question that many business owners have. After all, a website is the online home of any business so it’s necessary that it stays live and up to date at all times.
If you've been read any articles through my blog or worked with me in the past, you'll know I'm a huge fan of SS (here’s why). It's a wonderful platform for many reasons but as you'd expect, it differs from other content management systems like Wordpress in several ways. One of the key differences is how website are backed up and not everyone understands how Squarespace protects live content. They also aren’t sure what responsibilities, if any, fall on Squarespace users and the website’s manager and what Squarespace takes care of itself.
We’re going to clear all that up today so that you can feel confident that your website will be safe and protected.
I’ll explain what it means to back up your website, and also show you how I back up my own Squarespace website, as well as the other websites I manage.
No matter what type of website you run, you probably have a blog section (here's why).
Blogs are incredibly powerful tools that support your business in many ways. They can be used to drive traffic to your website, share your thoughts and ideas with your audience, add commentary about important industry issues, conduct interview with experts in your field, highlight product or services features, build SEO, and so much more.
But while it's one thing to create awesome content for your blog, it's another thing to set up your blog correctly.
One thing that I see many people doing on their websites is that they don't set up tags and categories in their blog posts. They are missing out on a simple but important step that takes only seconds to set up! Don't let that be you. If you're going to blog, do it properly and get better results.
I've created a short video tutorial to go along with this post to show you how easy it is to use tags and categories in your Squarespace blog posts.
Let's rewind and think back to the websites of yesteryear. Were your favourite websites around? How did those sites/blogs look? If you can remember those early days, you'll probably recall that they almost all had sidebars. Heck, sometimes there were even multiple sidebars on either side of the page content!
It was a chaotic time, to say the least.
Fast forward a few years and we see that most websites nowadays favour a clean, uncluttered aesthetic.
There's a simple reason for this: the rise of the smartphone and other devices.
Before we dig into the question "should your website have a sidebar?", let's have a quick history lesson.
f you're anything like me, you dream about laser focus and working on one task at a time. However, if truth be told, you're a multi-tasker.
In my case, this shows itself all the time when I'm browsing the internet or doing work online. Take a quick look at my browser and at any given time I'll have at least half a dozen (if not more!) browser tabs open. It's a cluttered mess and it can be hard to keep track of all the websites I have open.
Here's where favicons come into play. Favicons are the small icon on each browser tab associated with a website and they're one of the quickest ways to tell websites apart when you have many tabs open. They're a way to fully distinguish and brand your website and they are a design element that should not be overlooked.
Not only are they super cute and useful, they're also incredibly easy to create and upload to your website!
I've created a short video tutorial to go along with this post to show you how easy it is to create a favicon using Canva and then how to upload it to your Squarespace website.
As someone who lives and works in Vancouver, I spend a lot of time popping around the city attending tech industry meet-ups, networking events, and panel discussions. I love that our city is buzzing and that new opportunities present themselves at every turn. Our local tech industry is growing by leaps and bounds and I'm thrilled to be a part of it!
But does that mean that you're doomed if you DON'T live in a tech hub? Are you automatically at a disadvantage if you want to make it in our field outside of these areas? Are your chances of becoming a quality web designer/developer lower from the start?
NOPE, nope nope!
Thanks to the internet, information is instantly accessible to anyone, anywhere in a way that has never been seen before. This means that even if you don't live in a major area where tech events are happening every night of the week, you can still get the Coles Notes of these events with a little research!
I'm trying something new in today's article and am sharing my notes from a recent tech event I attended called "Tools, Technologies and Tips for Ecommerce in 2017". This way, even if you weren't able to attend in person, you can still see what experts in the field have to say on the topic!
Back by popular demand, I've recorded another Squarespace video tutorial!
Today I'm going to show you how to set up a blog on a Squarespace website and I'll also cover the basics of blogging with Squarespace.
This video address a question I get asked a lot as a web designer/developer. People will begin with a website on Squarespace by choosing a template but from there, they aren't sure how to set up a blog.
Get excited because it's way easier than you might have thought!
I'm showing you how to set up a blog on Squarespace using the Harris template.
Question for you: would you do business with a company that didn’t have a website?
For most people, the answer to this questions would be “It depends”, closely followed by “...but probably not”. As potential customers, we want to check out a business online before we buy from them or sign up for their services. Word of mouth might get the business on our radar but we want to confirm for ourselves that they are legitimate or a good fit before whipping out our Visa cards.
Any business, no matter the size or industry, should have a website that represents them online. A good website will attract and convert customers whereas a bad website will instantly repel prospective customers.
And do you know who plays one the biggest role in a website’s success? It’s not the business owner, the social media strategist or the copywriter. Nope, it’s the web designer.
Whether you’re looking to upgrade an existing website or build a brand new site, a web designer will take your project from start to finish.
If you have a website, you probably have an audience. But how well do you know them? Who visits your site, how do they interact with it, and how can you use that information to support your website growth and online business?
Understanding your audience is the biggest component of marketing your website and/or online business. If you don't know your audience, you're going to have a really hard time connecting with them and converting them into clients (if that's your goal).
There are several ways to draw insights about your website's audience and if you website is on Squarespace, the process couldn't be easier. Squarespace Analytics offers a TON of information and when you understand what it all means, it can have enormous impacts on your website and business.
I've also created a FREE Audience Analysis and Evaluation Worksheet that you can use to apply the information you're learning in this article.
Websites are funny things, when you think about it.
They're a little slice of the internet than anyone can claim and there are literally a million and one topics covered out there. Whether your website is a personal blog or is intended to support your business, there's room for everyone online.
But, as the saying goes, not all websites are created equally.
I've written before about how it's not as easy as cranking out some text, slapping a few pictures up and calling it a day. A good website requires thoughtful content, intentional design, and a clear intention. That's what sets the winners apart : they aren't satisfied with simply being "there". Instead, their owners/managers are always pushing the sites to grow and expand their reach.
As a web designer/developer, I work on my own website(s) every day as well as those of my clients. I've honestly seen it all and can pinpoint from the start which websites will see significant growth - and which ones will not.
Luckily, my friends, a successful website is NOT rocket science! It does, however, take time and effort to execute correctly.
You could spend your time Googling every tip & trick out there, or throwing method after method at the wall hoping something sticks. Eventually, something will work but you'll be exhausted and will probably hate yourself.
Alternatively, I've shared what I know works for me and my clients, and you can apply my pointers on your own websites. Let's get started.
A few days ago I was flipping through my calendar and all of a sudden it hit me : I've officially been running my own web design/development business for over a year now. Wow, what a feat!
It's a depressing fact that most businesses fail yet so far, I've been successful and I'm proud to say that I plan to keep it that way.
My business has been successful thanks to a combination of luck, hard work, perseverance and a willingness to approach my business strategically.
Here's the thing, though. A lot of it is replicable which means that YOU can start or grow your web design/development business too!
This article is going to walk you through the five foolproof steps that I use to get the web design/development projects I actually want to work on. By following these steps, I am confident that they can work for you too! It's not rocket science but it will take time and effort. But trust me, it's worth it.
The moment someone arrives on your website, they have landed on the oh-so-important homepage. This is where visitors learn about you (and your business) and are introduced to your offerings (products, services, blog, etc.) for the first time.
A homepage is so much more than just a landing page with a bit of content thrown together.
When designed correctly, a homepage can be a very effective page that guides visitors around your site and highlights key content in a simple, well-organized way.
Sounds easy, right? If that's the case, however, why do people struggle so much with creating a homepage that works FOR their website and business?
A lot of consideration goes into a well-designed homepage but if this is your first time around (or if you haven't updated your website's homepage in a while), you might be wondering how to go about it in the best way possible.
Keep your cool because I've reached out to three experts who are killing it in the digital space and they've shared their advice on creating an effective homepage for your website.
Their pointers are insightful (naturally) but they're also specific enough that you can take their suggestions and apply them to your own website.
Another Squarespace video tutorial coming your way!
In today's video, I'm going to show you how to update and edit a banner image in Squarespace, using a demo website on the Bedford template.
It's easy to switch out the banner image and make any edits you would like but it's important to make note that the process is different for banner images than it is for images within a page or blog post (more on that in a future video).