My first few websites, I paid someone else to do it. She was a friend of my sister and offered a super low price. I was stoked and grateful. I could get a custom website for a fraction of the price. While I am truly grateful for her help, it was not my smartest move. The cliche' statement "you get what you pay for" was in effect. The user interface, the area for me to update the page, was confusing. There were all sorts of coding issues that made simple things like putting a picture in the right place was a 5 hour ordeal. There were major things missing that I didn't know about but would help increase getting found online. The design, although pretty, didn't anything to help our clients answer any questions or worse.....consider us as somewhere to get yoga from.
I know I'm not the only one who has issues. I have other business friends who have no clue what's going on with their websites and paying $200 a month for SEO. Other yoga teachers I know spent weeks working on a Wordpress site and never get any clients from them. Fortunately, my boyfriend at the time (who is now my husband--hooray) was a software developer and he learned how to build a new platform for my yoga studio and I learned about web design, SEO, and marketing. Our first website together was a little rough but as we learned we made updates. As our website got better and better and I spent more time learning, I realized if I wanted to get interest from online, I had to stay up to speed. Here's what I learned through the process.
This blog post will get kind of techy....so to kick off here are some terms to learn.
Website: Your website is what people see online. Sometime, the term blog is used interchangeably with this.
SEO: An acronym for search engine optimization which is a fancy way of saying: what you do to your website so it's wasy to rise to the top of a Google search (or other search engine) SEO is a whole separate topic but is crucial to understand when building your website.
Social Media: Social Media is not your website. Social media is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms to share content with the world. This should be integrated into your website and with your social media strategy.
Host: Crucial to your website. This is where your website is stored so people can view it. This is usually something you have to pay separate for. Some companies include BlueHost, GoDaddy, and 1&1.
Domain Name: This site's domain is www.thesmartyogateacher.com. It's the terms you pick to represent your website. The most common in the U.S. is ending it with .com....but there's all sorts of other endings to use.
Determine if a website is needed.
(Skip this section and move to the next heading if you're a yoga studio. You need one.)
Websites, we should all have them! That's what people say. Who are these people? I have a yoga consulting business that is all word of mouth referrals. I actually have a few clients I do SEO for.....no website! I have a yoga teacher friend who is inept at anything technology related. She can barely return my emails without getting confused. Instead, she has lunch with all of her students after her yoga class on Fridays. Her class is always packed and she can sell out a retreat. Could she benefit from a website? Sure. Does she want to do the work to maintain it or spend money on it to have someone else do it correctly? No, she wants to get all of her clients in person and that works great for her.
So how do you determine if you need a website? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I willing to learn or pay a professional with a proven track record to build a website?
- Am I willing to learn how to maintain a website and use it for a business advantage?
- Am I planning on getting any clients online? If so, do I know how to do it or am I willing to learn?
- Are the type of clients that I want, looking for my services online?
If your answer to any of these questions are no...I would consider strongly consider not having a website and spending your valuable time elsewhere. If you are, keep reading.
Should I hire someone?
Money can be tight as a yoga teacher, especially if you're a new teacher. It can be tempting to do it yourself since there are so many free options. Let's talk about free. Free is not free. For example, WIX will give you a free website as long as they get to display their free website logo at the bottom of your site. Your website is a reflection of you and your business so if you're not going to invest in yourself, why would anyone else....and why would you want that displayed right on your page? Secondly, the nice shiny templates usually have graphic designers and professionals sprucing up the free template...not easy work. Finally, websites have all this fantastic and boring code in it that helps you get found on Google. Hopefully, its in your website but more often that not...it's completely empty. I know because almost every yoga teacher I've consulted with had crucial information missing. What does that mean? All the hard work, all those hours, of feeling drained behind a computer.....complete waste of time.
Paying someone else, while it may be expensive, can ensure your page looks professional and is easy to be found online. Instead of you spending 80 hours working on it, someone else can do it in 3 and you teach maybe 10 or so classes to make it up. Be smart though, some companies are shady and there can be hidden costs or surprises. To help you out, I created a free Printable 10 Questions to Ask your Web Designer.
Find a domain name
Domain names were always tricky for me. I had all of these other names I wanted for my yoga studio that I couldn't use because people literally just come up with names they think other people would want, buy them, and then sell them for a crazy price. While it may be wise for you to buy it so it's easier for people to find you; you may also opt to add something clever in it or change your business name. At the very least, buy a domain name. They're cheap, some of my sites use 1&1 and the domain was $9 a year. That's less expensive than a green juice! If you're not quite sure what you want. There's online name generators where you can type in part of what you want and the results will yield hundreds of creative options so if your #1 choice is taken...there's plenty of other ones that still stick with your brand.
Here's a few more tips on domain names:
- Some companies will encourage you to buy all these other extensions so other people don't take it. For example, if your name is iloveyoga.com they'll try to get you to buy iloveyoga.org, iloveyoga.net, etc. This is just a marketing ploy. It's a waste of money if you plan on having a good website.
- Be careful about using anything local, like a city or neighborhood, in your domain name if you have any intentions of moving.
- Do a google search of just the words in your domain to verify if you have any crazy competition that your site will have to compete against. For example, some studios have the same name in different states. If the other site is more established, it's going to be harder for your SEO to work.
Find a platform and a host
I know it sounds fancy and complicated. In my dummy terms, the platform is the software that we use to build out website. Platforms include: Wordpress, Squarespace, Tumblr, Bloggr. Each has its own features. Website companies may use others. Research all the different platforms in advance and see which one you like. I would even attempt to try all of them to see which one is the easiest because if it's too challenging, maintaining it in the future will always be a pain. Personally, I thought Squarespace was the easiest to work with and looked the most professional but Wordpress is so common there's lots of additional features that can be added on for customization. It's really a personal choice.
The next thing you'll want to do is find a host, this is the server where your website is so people can view it. Sometimes the two are intermingled, where the hosting and the platform come as a package deal. There's even options where your domain name is free if you host with them.
Understand what your client wants
Too often, we think about what we think the clients should know versus of what the clients are actually asking us. Our first webpage was littered with every tiny detail we thought the client should know (Understanding Yin Yoga, Prenatal Yoga Tips, Etc....). After a great blogpost and podcast from Pat Flynn, I thought about "life" of a new yoga student on my website. What is someone brand new to my yoga business want going to want to know? Fortunately, if you've been running your business for a little bit, you'll have emails and phone calls to rely on. What questions are constantly asked? For my yoga studio, more than half of the questions were following:
- What's your schedule?
- Where are your prices?
- Where are you?
- I'm a new student, what should I expect?
These became the the first and pretty much only things the clients saw on our front page. Our phone calls dropped in half. I wasn't constantly answering questions that honestly were better answered on the website instantly. We still had all the bells and whistles but they weren't as obvious because they didn't need to be. Your top questions may be different, for individual teachers it may be more social media, workshop, or blog based but no matter what, find out what your yoga students want and thoughtfully design your page.
We'll have more upcoming posts on yoga websites. If you have any topics you'd like covered, post them in the comments section.
Printable: 10 Questions to Ask Your Webdesigner
Namemesh: Domain name search with creative options if your name is taken.
1&1: Register your domain. You can also sign up for low priced hosting and website templates
Beautiful Yoga Websites: This is one of our sister companies that creates websites for yoga teachers.