Your small business needs an online presence – and if you’ve spent any time with us, you’ll know that this is not negotiable. You need a website (even a simple one), a social media presence, and a strategy. But where to start? How do you know which online platforms to use when there are so many options? We’ve designed this checklist to keep you organized.
Design and build your website. You wouldn’t build a house and have your contractor just start building. You need an architect or engineer to come up with a plan first, and the same goes for your website. Before hiring a web developer, you need to organize your content. Start by determining what tabs you want on your navigation bar, and then decide what content you want to appear on each page. You can do it yourself, or we can help you. Then, once you are ready to get your organized content online, check out The Borden Formula (our clear and efficient formula for getting a simple branded website online yourself), hire a web developer (you can find great freelancers on Upwork), or let us know if you would like our help (we have set up many clients using this theme).
Start a blog on your website. Your blog should be just a strategically-designed page on your website, updated often with fresh content. If you’re asking yourself What’s the point of blogging?? – read this. Then, learn how you can get the most out of your blog with these tips.
Set up your newsletter. We tend to start our clients off with MailChimp because it’s free up to 2000 users and integrates well with most websites. We have also used Constant Contact, which is also good (we just find MailChimp easy to use). Remember: getting permission to add someone to your email list is the most important thing about managing your newsletter. If you’re looking for an all-in-one formula to get permission, create content, and stay connected, you’re going to love Borden Snaps.
Sell your products online and in person. Selling products, services, and even digital downloads online is super easy with WooCommerce. We use it for The Tale of Kale and for many of our clients’ websites. For in-person sales, check out Square. Square plugs into your smartphone or tablet (both iOs and Android), and turns it into a credit card reader. The Square Reader itself is FREE and easily portable, and Square simply takes a percentage of each transaction.
Create a landing page that will generate leads. We’ve built customized landing pages for two of our projects The Tale of Kale and for our popular post 25 Big Thoughts for Your Small Businesses, offering digital downloads in exchange for newsletter sign-ups – and then have surprised people who signed up through The Tale of Kale with a discount code sent straight to their inbox. A landing page should have simple and clear messaging, and an obvious call to action. There are many ways to go about it, and much technology and digital strategy to support your initiative.
Track what happens on your website. Tracking what people do on your website, and where they came from, is not as difficult (or as creepy!) as it sounds. Set up Google Analytics (it takes less than 10 minutes to install), and then decide how often you want to log in to see your analytics. Setting a routine makes this habit so much easier to uphold. At the beginning of every month, we skim our stats from the previous month. It gives us an idea of which social channels are sending people to our website, and what blog posts people landed on most. Pick out the highlights and don’t get bogged down by the numbers. Keep an eye out for anything out-of-the-ordinary – What drove a lot of traffic? What didn’t attract much attention, and why? That’s the information you want.
Plan out foundational social media posts. Yes, is the quick answer. Your business needs to be on social media because your customers, clients, and community are there. It does not, however, need to take a lot of time away from your other core business activities – especially if you use it with good strategy. Come up with some evergreen social media posts – content that makes sense year-round, today, and in the foreseen future – that you can use again and again, across platforms. We recommend writing 100 foundational Tweets and adding them to Buffer. All you have to do is add each Tweet to your queue and select how often you want Tweets to be sent out. If you want 2 Tweets to go out every day, and you’ve uploaded 100 Tweets, you have content for the next 50 days! Every Tweet that goes out can be Re-Buffered to be added back into your queue.
Install the best plugins for website security and speed. If you receive a lot of traffic to your website, certain plugins will help increase security and speed up your site. We went straight to the source and asked our web host what plugins they recommend. Their response? WP Rocket is a great cache system that helps speed things up (a free alternative is WP Fastest Cache), and Sucuri and Wordfence can be used (even at the same time) for website security.
Keep your business organized. For sharing files and folders internally and with clients, we like Google Drive. It’s easy to use, FREE, and lets you store and access files from your computer or mobile device. You can make your drive private, or share access with as many people as you want. Here’s how to set it up.
Go digital. Not only are digital records easier to search through and organize, but going paperless is gentler on the planet. We have used FastField mobile forms, and recommend it for clients needing to quickly collect email addresses, signatures, and additional information in a customized form. Another handy tool is Adobe Sign which allows you to sign legally binding documents from anywhere – so you don’t need to print, sign, and scan.
If you’ve already done these things and you have momentum and traction, we can help you with more sophisticated platforms and solutions – just ask! Everything we do and recommend has been distilled down from extensive research, trial, and error. We try our best to create a clear and humble approach to good business tactics, so that you and your teams can understand and turn it into effective and productive revenue streams.
Kindly note: A few of the links are affiliate links, which means we may get a commission if you purchase. Know that we only recommend tools that we use personally in our business or with clients, and that the things on this list are here for no reason other than that we believe in them!