So you’ve built your website or had one designed for you. You’ve launched it, and it’s looking good. But now it’s time to take things a step further – it’s time to improve your website and grow your business.
The good news is that there are tools you can use to help you grow your business and website The bad news is that researching, reading reviews, and testing out different products can take a long time. And it can hold your business back.
Luckily, we’ve tried everything! And in this post, we share six areas that will help you improve your website and grow your business. And for each area, we give you a list of tried and tested tools that we’re happy to recommend, so you can spend less time researching and more time growing your business.
Some of these links are referral links that we earn money for or awards. In all honesty, this does not bring us a lot of dough – enough to buy cat treats. And we wouldn’t recommend anything that we don’t use ourselves. We’ll let you know if it’s a referral link you’re clicking on.
1. Creating high-quality imagery and graphic
If you want your website to look professional, you have to use great photos, images, and graphics. If you’re planning a photoshoot for your website, you might enjoy our podcast episode How to prepare for a photoshoot for your website.
But having professional photos of yourself might not be enough. Sometimes you need to add text over an image or re-size it to fit in a certain area of your website. And unless you’re a skilled graphic designer (or have one you can call on a regular basis), you might need to use photo editing software.
A tool we always recommend is Canva (if you sign up, we get awards and stuff). It has a free version with a lot of functionality, and a paid-for version you might want to upgrade to if you need to. It’s much easier to use (and much cheaper) than Photoshop. And it’s perfect if you want to create images for your blog posts, for example. You can easily overlay text onto existing photos or simply add nice graphics to your website to make your pages look more interesting.
Another tool we use regularly is Placeit. Placeit allows you to take a screenshot of something – an eBook cover, for example – and place it onto a device like an iPhone, an iPad, or a laptop. So if you want to create the mock-up for a downloadable PDF or lead magnet, you can create a professional-looking, tangible product in minutes. At the time of writing, you can subscribe to Placeit for about $29 a month and get unlimited downloads.
When it comes to stock images and photos, our go-to website is Deposit Photos (referral link) We know, we know, we do tell people not to fill their websites with cheesy stock images, but sometimes, a stock image is a necessity.
Video is a great tool to improve user experience and build trust with your audience. But it’s also great to improve your SEO efforts, as when watching videos, your users spend longer on the page. And this tells Google and the other search engines that your content is worth consuming.
There are different ways you can use video on your website – you may want to record yourself talking to the camera or do presentations, for example. But whatever you decide to do, where can you host the videos?
The obvious choice is YouTube. It’s free, and it’s incredibly easy to set up. You just create an account, upload your videos, and you’re done.
However, you need to be aware of the fact that after playing your videos, YouTube will advertise other content that may or may not be appropriate or relevant to your audience or your business. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But just bear in mind that you’re not fully in control of the user experience you’re providing through your website.
We love loom! If anyone has a question in our membership about, well, anything, we hit the loom button which starts recording our screens and us immediately. To see an example of how Loom works, watch below…
A great alternative to YouTube is Vimeo. They have a free plan, which only allows you to upload a small number of videos per week. If you need more, their cheapest plan is quite affordable at £6 per month at the time of writing. Unlike YouTube, Vimeo won’t advertise other content.
Another tool we’ve been using, which offers professional, attractive designs is Wistia. At the time of writing, it’s $99 a month for about 10 videos, which is a lot more than what we originally paid for a few years ago.
The tool certainly comes with a higher price tag. But if you have the budget, if video plays a huge part in your business, and if you require the professional look this software offers, Wistia gives you an extra edge.
3. Email marketing
Another tool you might need to integrate with your website when growing your business is an email marketing tool. Companies like MailChimp or ConvertKit allow you to build a database of customers by capturing contact information for people who visit your website. Through email marketing, you can build better relationships with your customers (or potential customers) and contact them and market to them on a regular basis.
But which one is right for you?
You can have a free account with MailChimp for your first 2,000 subscribers. The functionality of the free version is limited. But if you’re just starting out with email marketing, the software probably has everything you need.
We now use ConvertKit, which, at the time of writing, comes with a $29 a month price tag. Their interface is modern, clean, and very easy to use. It enables us to group our subscribers into lists. So we know whether people might be interested in a website redesign, in joining our membership, or having a website critique, for example. Plus, with our plan, we get additional support from ConvertKit, which is always handy.
Keap (used to be Infusionsoft)
Another piece of software that a lot of online marketers recommend is Keap, which used to be known as Infusionsoft. Plans start at around $99 a month at the time of writing. So it’s quite an expensive tool if you’re just starting out, have a small number of subscribers on your list, and don’t need access to complex functionality. The software is definitely more sophisticated, so if you need to set up complicated marketing funnels, it might be the one for you.
4. Website design
Another important element to consider when taking your business to the next level is design. At some point, you might need more control over the design elements of your website, even if you had your website professionally designed. And for this, you might want to consider using a page builder.
Page builders allow you to build on an existing theme or template and with drag-and-drop functionality. You can add or amend design features in minutes, especially if you don’t know any coding and feel that what’s the standard WordPress editor functionality may be too basic and bland.
We don’t normally, but a lot of website designers use page builders nowadays. With a page builder, you can literally create design elements and templates in minutes. And the added advantage is that the website owner can then use the same page builder and continue to make changes themselves.
We shared more information about page builders over on our post How much does it cost to build your WordPress website? If you’re interested, go check it out!
Elementor (affiliate link) is the page builder we recommend to all our members inside the Make Your Mark Online membership. It has a free version with basic features, but the Premium version will give you everything you’ll ever need. With just a bit of practice, you can add pricing tables, testimonials, quotes, and create attractive pages in a matter of minutes.
Other alternatives to Elementor are:
- Thrive Themes, which starts at around $67 per year at the time of writing.
- And Beaver Builder. This is a more advanced page builder (with a steeper learning curve) and is used by a lot of developers.
5. Taking bookings on your website
Do you want to start taking bookings through your website? A tool a lot of our clients use is Calendly. It allows you to set up your diary, block times out, and allocate times to certain appointments, so your prospective clients can book directly into the tool.
If you run discovery calls, coaching calls, or other consultancy appointments, you can manage your diary without having to go back and forth exchanging endless emails with your clients. If you upgrade to the paid-for version, you can then set up different types of appointments with different durations and take payments through your website. We use a similar tool called Acuity Scheduling.
Alternatively, you can install a booking plugin onto your website and integrate it with a payment provider like PayPal or Stripe. A popular online booking and scheduling plugin that comes highly recommended is Bookly.
6. Taking payments on your website
And last but not least, if you’re a service-based business and need a way to take payments through your website for online programmes, courses, or memberships, for example, you can set up products on your website for your services or packages. You then sell them in the same way you would on an eCommerce website that sells physical products.
If you want to see an example of this, check out our Website Critique service on our website. When you buy the product directly from our website, you get an email confirmation of booking and payment, and within 7 days, you get the actual video with the critique. And an invoice is automatically generated, so you don’t have to remember to do this manually.
PayPal and Stripe
When it comes to payment providers, the most popular options are PayPal and Stripe. If you have a PayPal account, you can set up a ‘Pay Now’ button on your website in minutes. Stripe is also easy to use and has cheaper fees than PayPal. Just make sure you have an SSL certificate installed on your website that allows you to capture customer card details.
Other payment providers
If you’re looking for something with more functionality, another option is Sam Cart, a shopping cart system that processes customer transactions on their website. And they have awesome checkout pages!
We use a tool called Thrive Cart, which, with an upfront fee of approximately £500 is quite expensive. But it allows us to set up quick sales pages, send people the link, and take payments via credit or debit card. So if you don’t want to use PayPal or Stripe or add buttons to your website, Thrive Cart is a solid, robust tool that ensures your customers’ data is secure.
And finally, you can install a shopping cart plugin to your website, like WooCommerce, which allows you to set up virtual products through your website shop.
Would you like us to help you with your website?
If you’re ready to improve the experience you provide to your existing and prospective customers and position yourself as an expert in your field, we have plenty more advice and tips to share with you! if you’re after a WordPress website that ranks, gets you traffic, and delivers you more sales, we’ve got what you need.
It’s time you stop faffing about with your website and make changes that will help you close more sales. If this sounds like music to your ears, come and check out our signature membership, Make Your Mark Online. With our easy-to-use and edit page templates, our video courses, our weekly live Q&A and a private Slack group, we’re here to help you get results through your website. Come and check it out!