All Posts

How to create a website for your small business in 2023

hello world!
Written by
Katt Matiquite
Published on
June 15, 2023

Here’s everything you need to know and plan to successfully start your business website.

But before we get into that, congratulations on getting here.

Many folks struggle to finally make this decision. Or to commit to it. But alas, here you are. Yay, you!

This guide will be split into three parts.

… Just to make sure you’re not overwhelmed. Plus, we’ll address frequently asked questions at the end.

The first section will discuss the preparation your website needs.

Unlike most of us think (because yeah, I’ve been there), creating a website doesn't begin with buying a domain and putting words online.

If you’re aiming for success, there’s work to do before you even connect to the wifi.

The second section discusses the actual creation.

The words, the design, the SEO, and every other step you take. There’s a specific order to this, and you must understand what each step does.

This way you fully take advantage of everything a business website can offer you.

Lastly, after the website has been put online, drumroll please: the work continues.

In the last section, we’ll discuss everything you need to do after the website’s online.

How to make sure people find it. How to maintain it. How to scale it. And more.

So grab your mug, prepare your notebook (or save this post) and let’s dive in.

1. Before the website

This part of the process has one goal in mind: Making sure that everything you put in has a purpose, and every piece is equipped to fulfill that purpose to the max.

It’ll have to start with digging into your mind or having a meeting with your team, to understand your goals.

 If you haven’t done that yet, it’s cool. Just save this post and come back to it tomorrow. (Set an alarm right now so you don’t forget.)

I’d suggest coming back after each step to make sure you’re ticking everything off.

  1. Unified Branding (Brand identity, brand voice, visual branding)

These could be seven different points, but for the sake of efficiency, I’m going to summarize them.

Your business needs a brand, and that brand needs to be concise!

Most people think “brand” means logos and colors.

Many others think it’s just a slogan and colors.

Yeah, we think “colors” a lot. I say we because until I started learning about copywriting, I was people. But there’s no need to be ashamed. You’ve got half the answer right.

But a brand is more than just visuals and a slogan.

A brand is an identity. 

You might think “I’m building a business, not becoming an influencer” but guess what. You still need a brand!

When you scale and speak to your employees about your values and how you treat customers, do you know what you’ll be referring to? Your brand.

When you send emails to your audience or decide to throw a festive campaign, know what that’ll need? Your brand.

You want your audience to see a new product, post, or campaign, and recognize your business before even reading your name.

Even if after two or five years you decide to do a visual rebranding… Your fans will hear a spokesperson or see a new ad and still feel like that’s “on brand.”

Because the brand (ie, the identity) is what people connect to.

You need to define your mission. How your brand speaks. You also need to address the visual aspects of it. But don’t just wonder what you want your website to look like.

Think “How do I want it to feel?

That’s the brand.

Write it down.

It’ll have to be one and the same across every page.

  1. Target Audience/Client Avatar

This is a part of branding that needed a shoutout.

Part of the decision about how your website “speaks” will be based on who it’s speaking to.

You want your website to attract, connect and sell to your ideal audience. So we need to know who that is before getting started.

Not all business is good business and you can’t afford to be wasting time and money with the wrong people.

You also need to understand the difference between your target audience and your ideal client avatar.

The term target audience speaks to a demographic. It’s a group of people you aim to reach.

A client avatar is a semi-imaginary individual you create to help visualize your target audience.

Say you’re an interior designer and your audience is homeowners. You can pick one of the many homeowners you’d ideally work with and use them as a focal point for your marketing.

This exercise makes your strategies more concise and targeted.

You’ll never have to say “Hey Anna! Hey Bob! I’m talking to you and only you!

But when you write as if you were speaking to Anna and create ads you know Bob will laugh at (and consequently click on, remember, and repeat), you win.

This type of targeting will help you get their trust and then friends, and pretty much anyone in your target audience because when they read it, they’ll know this was written just for them.

Every marketer vouches for this.

It’s a very necessary and useful strategy.

  1. Domain Name and Host

You know what the brand is about. You know what your brand is meant to feel like. You know who you’re speaking to. All you need is a platform to speak from.

If you’ve already got a domain name (like your business name), that’s great! If you haven’t… time to bring that brainstorming notepad OUT!

Next, you’ll want to find a platform to host your site online. I use WordPress. It’s free, it’s great and it’s beautiful.

It’s relatively harder to manage than Squarespace or GoDaddy. But there’s a reason it’s still used by 43% of all websites ever.

Once you register your name and find a host you’re ready to get started!

2. Creating the website

On to the tough part. Now you’ll begin understanding why the preparation was so important.

In this section of the process, we’re taking all the branding notes we’ve prepared and using them to build the words and the visuals that’ll make people connect to you.

  1. Build a site map

You already have a clear idea of what your business and brand are about. Whatever your industry, your business website needs to have at least four main pages:

  • A home page,
  • A products/services page,
  • An about page,
  • A contact page/form.

Now, the planning here gets a little more personalized.

If you have many products/services, consider separating them and making a page for each.  This isn’t always necessary, it really depends on your business model. It also helps with SEO, which we will discuss in a bit.

Another tip is to consider the general purpose of your website.

Does it make sense for your business to have a blog? Are there specific things your website needs to do that would require more pages?

My client Roneka, for example, had more pages than conventionally necessary. This was because her business has a specific community engagement venture that doesn’t quite fall under her “services” umbrella.

Another thing about a sitemap is that it’ll help you decide which pages go under which. What page needs to link to other pages. And so on.

It keeps the content streamlined and provides a much better user experience for your browsers.

The last thing you want is people getting lost on your website. If they’re confused, they’ll leave.

So take the time to properly organize your pages.

  1. Write engaging copy

When building a business website, it’s always important to remember your business goals.

The main one is to sell - but to sell you need people to click on, read through, and believe in whatever you offer. That’s the only way they’ll buy.

To do this, your website shouldn’t just have words. It needs engaging conversion copy.

Make sure the words that go live are carefully researched, targeted, engaging, and converting words.

We don’t want you investing in domains, designers, and whatever else you’re paying for… Only to have your website still be completely ineffective. I mean, God forbid!

  1. Use powerful headlines/hooks

Again, this is a point that could belong to another point. But it was too important to go unsaid: your website needs great hooks!

Yes, this is still copywriting. But think about this: When you google something, what makes you decide what to click? Odds are it’s the big blue title.

It somehow calls your attention, tells you the page has the answer, satisfies you, and makes you curious all at the same time.

That. Is the power of a great hook.

Your website needs it if you’re going to get traffic.

  1. Set up your payment system (if applicable)

If you’re building a website for e-commerce or you have products/services people can buy directly from the website, you need to set your payment systems up before launching.

Choose the system you’ll be using and set it up. Connect it to your account.

Remember: let your readers know their payments are made through a secure server. You want to give them complete faith in your process.

  1. Test and Publish

Please, please please, please! Do not publish without testing.

Go over your pages, and check your links and readability.

Test it for mobile functionality, (that’s where most internet users are).

If your website has any breaks, if it’s slow or malfunctioning, this will only damage your business.

Once the tests are done, press that publish button and pop the champagne!

  1. SEO Strategy

Your website needs an SEO strategy to go on. This affects the copy you write and the maintenance you’ll perform after it’s done.

But the reason it’s placed last in this section is this: you need it but you don’t start with it.

SEO has more to do with long-term strategy. Even Forbes says so.

The copy you write should not be primarily defined by keywords. If your goal is to build a business that connects with its audience and builds a community then branding and value come first, and SEO comes second.

With that said, preparing your SEO even at the most basic level should be part of creating your website and not just promoting it.

3. Promoting and Maintaining the website

You build it! Awesome!

You did the thing and I’m very proud of you.

But a published website means nothing without traffic. So help your business out, and do some promoting.

  1. Market the website online (social media, email, etc)

In case your brand already has a digital presence (LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest…) that’s where you should market it first!

Whatever you were doing up until this point, keep doing it with an additional “click here to check my website” call to action. And if you weren’t doing much of anything yet, at least start sharing links.

This also works with personal pages, or even private messages to friends like “Hey, look at my website. Please share it. K tks” or… however you text your friends and family.

You will need to work on some marketing campaigns to get more traffic. Create a strategy to promote content on all the platforms your ideal client uses.

Integrate it all and make sure it fits your goal (which in this case, is to get people on your site).

P.S.: If you don’t have a newsletter, now would be a good time to consider starting one.

  1. SEO analysis to rank better on search engines

Considering you’ve already built a foundational strategy before the promotional stage, the deal now is to analyze how your website is performing and see what you can do to top it.

Maybe you had a keyword that’s not ranking as well as you’d hoped. Can you change it? What would you change it to? 

This is also when you start working to get backlinks.

The key is to work with the data you get.

Now that the website’s published, there’s a lot more to know about how people and search engines are receiving your website. Analyze that data and build strategies to rank better.

But remember, SEO results come in the long run. Please don’t expect to rank #1 after three days of work.

  1. Stay relevant

If you have a blog, keep putting out content that stays with the times. If you don’t have a blog, use your social media or email marketing to show your audience your business and services are necessary today.

Whatever you do, stay relevant.

The fight for people’s attention has never been greater. So you want to make sure you’re talking about things they want to hear.

Refer to your client avatar. What do they care about, right now?

That’s an easy trick to get them to keep coming to you.

4. FAQs

  1. How long does it take to create a website?

This depends. The creation process can average around 6-10 weeks depending on the teams you have working on it. If you start this process without having a brand voice down pat, you’ll need another week or two to do that. It could be done in a day, but you want to allow your mind the freedom to really find the uniqueness in your brand. This guide might help you out.

  1. How much will it cost to create a website?

You can build a website with 2-6 thousand dollars.

A domain costs $10-20 per year. Hosting is free on WordPress, $16-65 (a month) on Squarespace, and $9-25 (a month) on GoDaddy.

Copywriting services start at $2k and the average designer charges about $700 to start.

You’ll probably need $500 to pay for a web developer as well (if your designer won’t do it and if you’re not using automated hosting).

These are the main, unequivocally necessary costs. So the total starting price comes out to $3210-3275.

  1. What should my website say?

Who you are (brand), who you’re speaking to (indirectly. Please don’t write “Hey Anna and Bob!”), why they should listen to you, and what you want them to do.

Most of this will be formulated in your brand voice guide. The rest will be etched during the copywriting process.

Contact me if you need help with this.

  1. Do I need to start SEO right away?

Yes and no.

You need to think of brand positioning and value first. But you should use that to start finding out the right keywords and analyzing SERPs and page content before or right after you publish.

  1. How do I write engaging copy?

You research, you empathize, you use storytelling and psychological triggers, you engage and persuade, you write and edit, you sprinkle in a bit of poetic imagery and then you proofread.

Plus a few more rounds of editing.

That, or you hire me to do it for you 🙂

May your business website thrive and soar. I’m rooting for you, e-friend!

Don’t forget to save this post for future reference. And don’t be stingy.

Share this blog post with any dreamer, self-employed creative, freelancer, or small business owner you know 🙂

And hey! If you’re freaking out about branding, or the words on your website, or promoting it… Don’t.

I’m here to help. Reach out and let’s give your website a likable voice!

Subscribe to newsletter

Subscribe to receive the latest blog posts to your inbox every week.

More Articles

How to identify your target audience

"Speak directly to the target audience you want" is great advice. And you'll hear it a lot down here...
Read more