Whether a business owner or individual looking to grow, learning how to build your online presence can benefit you tremendously. While in-person and physical connections, interactions and storefronts are valuable, having the ability to be discovered and referenced online can guarantee engagements with you/your company from all over (as well as when you’re not around).
But building an online presence isn’t easy. First, you have to identify what you want your potential audience/customers to engage with the most. Are you looking to show products and services? Do you want to highlight certain aspects of yourself or your company? Is it important for viewers to get a behind-the-scenes feel? Asking yourself these questions will help to get you started. Then you can determine what you want for your business page or website vs. what will be content for social media pages.
Once you’ve decided what’s of value to you and organized where things will go, your next step will be development and creation, which basically translates to a ton of back-end work and making content (designs, branding, photography/writing/art etc.) to showcase who you are or what your business is about. This will legitimatize you and build your online presence so that people who reach your site or page(s) will leave with a strong understanding of you.
First thing first, get yourself a domain.
Creating a professional space on the internet begins with owning your own domain (a customized link that people can type into their search bar that brings them to your site). If you’re a business owner, you might make this your company name (or an abbreviation if it’s too long). There’s also value in creating a personal website—different than the company page—that has your name associated somehow. (Consider the difference in the two entities before purchasing to determine whether these will be combined or separate.)
Domains can be purchased in a variety of ways. There are sites that can help with this: GoDaddy, WordPress, Namecheap, Bluehost (to name a few). I’ve personally used WordPress, and if you’re interested, there’s a Black Friday Weekend Cyber Sale for 30% off WordPress with this code: BLACKCYBER2018.
Once you’ve purchased a hosting website and domain, you can start to customize. [Side note: No, you don’t need to purchase a domain, and you can use a URL like marisadonnelly.wordpress.com, for example, but it’s undoubtedly more professional when you have a paid URL to bring users to your pages.]
Try to stay consistent with branding.
As you start to build your pages, try as much as you can to stay consistent across the board. See if it’s possible to secure the same username for all of your social media pages, for example. Or, if you have to switch something, make it recognizable in some way. [Side note: When I launched Be A Light, I created the Instagram page as @bealightcollective – this was the community aspect of the actual brand, Be A Light LLC. Though these are slightly different, I stayed consistent logo-wise, branding-wise, and on all pages so that it was clear they were connected.]
Be real and not just about selling products/services.
As tempting as it is to use your online platforms (social media, website, etc.) to market yourself and your products/services, try to stay away from that. Instead of focusing all your efforts on what you can sell, give your audience a behind-the-scenes look into who you are. Make sure you have some sort of ‘About’ page where you tell your story. Give people the reason(s) why you are who you are or why you’re doing what you’re doing. Also make sure that you’re approachable, too, so going to your site doesn’t simply feel like a transaction.
I can’t stress this enough! Though it feels silly to want to create a networking space on your website, it’s invaluable to growing yourself and your business. This is abundantly easier on social media, but possible even on a website or page. Wherever you can, allow space for customers/viewers to engage. Whether this is a comments section, an open forum, area for customer reviews, or as simple as a ‘Contact’ page, make sure that the people who visit your site can be active.
This will build community and show that you’re a real person behind the content.
Create a an active, navigable storefront.
E-commerce is so essential in helping you build your online presence. Whether you’re an individual or business owner, finding ways to turn those viewers into sales can help you both financially, and with online credibility.
Whether you’re selling products and services directly, or putting up a few things for sale just to showcase your skills, using a compatible service—like Shopify or WooCommerce, for example—can help you tremendously. (And no, you don’t have to be a developer to get started!)
I launched my online store with WooCommerce. I love how easy it was to set up, find user-friendly themes, and integrate my own customization. My shop is simple, but I’ve been able to create something that works, showcases my products, and brings in sales with ease. If you’re interested, there’s a Black Friday Weekend Cyber Sale for 30% off WordCommerce with this code: BLACKCYBER2018.
Link your pages and build SEO.
Yes. This is so important! After your pages are built (ex: website, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) cross-link them. What that means is simply sharing links on one page that links out to another. That way anyone who visits your website, for example, will see links for all your social media sites.
A useful service for this (especially on Instagram) is LinkTr.ee. Here you can share multiple links within one URL on your Instagram bio. You also have the option to create dropdowns or buttons on your website to link out to social media and other sites, too.
Having more than one page associated to your name/business can also help with SEO (search engine optimization) which is essentially more online traffic directly to your page!
Use your profiles/pages consistently.
Having a great site(s) is wonderful, but if you never post on it, it’ll fall lower and lower on the algorithm. (Which means that no one will actually see it.) Once you get yourself launched, update frequently. Share content from your blog to your LinkedIn profile, link your posts on your Instagram stories. Use graphics to engage and bring people to your site. Comment back, reply, and answer messages so that people know they can easily reach you. Stay consistent—that will effortlessly build your online presence.
Featured Image Credit: Dylan Gillis