Planning Your Website

This is the first post in my series about what you need to know when you’re creating your own website. In this part, I wanted to talk with you about the imporance of planning who your website is for and what you want to say to you audience.

Defining your target audience

You’ll hear this advice from a lot of people, that in order for your website to attract your target, you have to know who they are. Make a list of the characteristics that your target audience has in common including,

  • gender
  • age range
  • income level
  • education level
  • technology comfort level
  • marital status
  • kids or no kids
  • stage of life
  • industry
  • job position
  • humor
  • skill level
  • audio, video or text preference

It’s really important to be as specific as possible here. The most common objection to this is that by being too specific, you feel like you’re leaving people out. But the truth of it is that you can’t attract everyone. If you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll most likely end up connecting – really connecting – with no one. So think of who you want to work with most, who you’ve enjoyed (or think you would enjoy) working with the most.

Defining your content niche

One of the most important steps when planning your website – if not THE most important step – is defining your content niche, which is just a fancy buzzwordy way to say what your website is about. Your content niche and your target audience are very closely related, and subtle shifts in one can affect the other.

If you think of your website as a conversation, your target audience is who you’re having the conversation with, and your content niche is what the conversation is about. So what conversation is your website having? No matter what specialty you have or who your target audience is, your content has to be focused to really have impact. If you’re trying to market to everyone, you won’t appeal enough to enough people to truly be successful. I’ve seen this myself.

When I started doing websites, I very loosely defined my target audience as “business owners” because we all know that every business needs a website, and I could make one for them. I narrowed it to “small business owners” because I accepted that larger companies would probably want things that I didn’t know how to or want to do. So all small business owners. That was my target. That’s a hard target to get in front of, especially frequently enough for them to be compelled to work with me. After a long time, I really narrowed my focus, and it pained me to do so because I still felt like I could help all those small business owners. But I realized that by choosing my new focus, and one that has to some degree chosen me, I still get to help small business owners have fabulous websites and I get to teach, which appeases the little girl inside me playing pretend. I always wanted to play school when I was little. Other girls wanted to play dolls or house, or even cars. I liked playing school. And being the teacher. 🙂

Now the content niche of my website is focused on training & teaching – helping people to be better friends with their WordPress websites, and not feel so much anxiety about managing it. It’s easier for me to create content because it’s a smaller conversation. Before there were so many possibilities in the conversation that I never knew what to blog about, what to post about on social media, what products to offer, or even how to describe what I did. But with a more specific content niche, the conversation is a lot more free flowing. It’s more like having a conversation with a good friend than speaking to a room full of strangers.

Next week is part two of the series, aimed at helping you understand the different between domain names and hosting and why they’re both needed for your website. Sign up for my mailing list below to get automatically notified when the next post is published.

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