Build Online Presence in One Long Weekend
Table of Contents
- Generating a Business Name and Brand
- How to Create a Website
- Setting Up Social Media Accounts
- How to Build a Strong SEO Foundation
- Incorporating Your Business
Alright, so let’s say you’ve got one long weekend to build online presence for your side hustle or future business to start generating traffic and brand awareness. The following is a collection of streamlined, cost-effective suggestions to help you go into the weekend with an idea and come out with a reality.
Name and Brand
One or two words that make a huge impact on the success of your business … your name. At this stage, chances are you already have an idea of what your business name should be. But if not, here some pointers to consider while you brainstorm:
Choose between real or fictional words. The latter will be more affordable and potentially memorable, but will cost more to establish brand recognition. Recognizable words will be more expensive upfront, but easier to communicate your brand purpose on a shoestring budget. Keep it to 15 letters or less. Anything above that and you’ll begin to see a lot more typos and misspellings when potential customers try to type it into their search bar.
Make it easy to remember. The ability to drop your business name at a networking event and have someone type in from memory and out of pure interest is extremely valuable. Keep it snappy, make it unique, make it easy to spell phonetically, and hint at what your business does.
Once you have your name, it’s time to buy your web domain. I like using GoDaddy as my primary registrar, but there are plenty of fish in the sea for domain registration, so just make sure you use a reputable one.
Cost-saving tip: If your business name is very short, or uses a common/trending keyword or combination of keywords, then chances are the “.com” top-level domain (TLD) is prohibitively expensive or unavailable. Don’t be afraid to buy an alternate TLD (ex. “.co”, “.shop”, “.agency”). While “.com” is still the reigning king of consumer familiarity, the others are gaining popularity, and you can actually have some clever fun with the one you choose. Just make sure that if someone does own the “.com” domain for your business name, that they don’t have an insurmountable web presence to beat.
Okay, so you have your name, you have your domain name—the next step is getting a logo and brand. If you’re an entrepreneur on a budget, I highly recommend Fiverr. The quality is mixed and you need to have an idea in regards to the style that you’d like—but if your desire is simply a modern logo that looks professional, Fiverr should do fine. Some designers even include a brand book with color schemes and typography, so keep an eye out for that.
If you’ve got a little more to spend, I do recommend hiring a professional branding designer through Upwork or your personal network, as their deliverables will be higher quality and more unique. You’ll also get more customization, and ultimately an all around more cohesive brand. Investing in your intellectual property early on gives you a solid foundation, and can also increase your company’s valuation down the road.
Create a Website
Now to tackle the lion’s share of your weekend’s work. 15 years ago, building a website required advanced development knowledge. Now, aspiring entrepreneurs have their pick of convenient website builders. This section alone could be a single post, so to save time, we’ve itemized suggestions below based on skill level and the purpose of your website.
Informational Website: Intended to tell your customer about your business and allow them to connect with you through a contact form or something similar.
Ecommerce Website: Allows customers to make purchases through your website, whether they be physical or digital. The website tracks inventory, facilities checkout, and integrates with a payment processor.
Blog: A website that is centered around content and is routinely updated with new posts.
Web App: A complex, interactive website that connects the frontend (what the user sees) with a backend database.
No Tech Experience/Informational Website. If this is you, we recommend Squarespace. They offer performance, easy-to-edit templates and charge an agreeable monthly fee.
Some Tech Experience/Informational Website. If you’ve got a little more tech savviness, then we recommend Wix or WordPress. Wix offers a little more customization ability than its Squarespace counterpart. WordPress is for more more advanced users, but when combined with a builder theme such as Divi or Elementor, the possibilities are endless.
All Tech Experience Levels/Ecommerce Capable Website. For anything commerce-related, we recommend Shopify. If you have little tech experience, they have plenty of beautiful themes to provide you with a professional storefront from the get-go. If you have more tech experience, you can always extend the functionality and aesthetics with some additional code. Do you know three three attributes that your shop needs to succeed? Read our post on the matter.
All Tech Experience/Blog Website. Whether you’re just getting into web design or you’re seasoned, WordPress is without a doubt the way to go for blogs. There’s a higher learning curve for newbies, but with the right theme, it’s manageable. If you plan on having guest writers and contributors, facilitating new accounts for them is easy.
If your goal is to build a business centered around a web app, there are code-free solutions that just require a bit more of a learning effort, and are probably not realistic for a weekend. However, if you are ambitious, you might check out companies such as bubble.io or just Google “no-code web apps”. Beyond that, you’re probably better off building a brand, informational website, and business plan in order to pursue interest, pre-sales, or investment money.
Let’s talk about the key attributes of a successful website. If you want to really hit the ground running, then make sure you focus on the following:
- Professional Design. Not everyone is a professional designer, but everyone can notice when an overall aesthetic is not inline with brands they’re used to paying top-dollar for. If you’re not a designer, stick closely to your starting template aesthetic. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel. Look at where other websites put certain buttons, as well as their color choices to associate with certain actions. Larger companies have invested millions in this research, so don’t try and push the envelope if money is a concern.
- Word of Mouth. Undoubtedly the most important of these items. People need social proof to making a purchasing decision, so having some sort of testimonial section is imperative. Bonus points if you can get a photo included. If you don’t have anyone you can ask for a testimonial from for your service or product, make obtaining one a priority.
- Trust. Data theft and online scams are sadly commonplace now, and the average user is cautious. Make sure that at the very least you have an SSL certificate installed so that it says “secure” in web browsers. Nothing scares customers away like seeing that “not secure” warning. One Page, One Goal. Don’t throw a million options at users. Focus on one goal, especially for your landing/home page. If you want people to call you, orchestrate your design around that sole action.
- Microcopy Matters. Microcopy are the little bits of text that augment your site’s usability (button text, directive messages, etc.). Make sure that you clearly explain to users the way in which they’re meant to navigate, and prepare users for what they’re meant to expect on the next page.
So you’ve got your website tips, now get to building!
Social Media Accounts
A strong social media presence has become a cornerstone of any digital business. Chances are you already use these platforms, and so making new pages/accounts for your soon-to-be business is easy.
We recommend having presences on the “Big Four”—Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn as a minimum, and if there are other platforms that cater to your target demographic, then certainly build there as well. Set all of your accounts up for success by writing a consistent and concise bio/tagline, and by adding a crisp avatar with your company’s logo, as well as an eye-catching banner. Make sure your contact information is accurate and that the buttons link to your shiny new website.
In order to create the appearance that the accounts have been active from time, publish 5-6 inaugural posts, using keywords as hashtags, and then invite all of your friends to like the pages/accounts. No, they may not be part of your target demographic … but that’s okay.
The appearance of your brand having a high number of “likes” and “follows” will establish social proof and encourage those who are part of your target demographic to like and/or follow.
Need tips on growing your social media presence quickly and organically? We’re working on a post about just that and will be sure to link it once complete. Speaking of which, like and follow us on the Motmill social media accounts so that you can stay up-to-date on all of the content we’re pushing out.
As a bonus for this step, you can also create listings for your business on Google, Bing, and assorted directories. It’s a simple way to quickly diversify your web presence. Listings such as these also help your search ranking by way of backlinks, name correlation, and location for local searches.
Comprehensive Search-Engine Optimization does not happen overnight, so don’t expect to rocket to the number one spot overnight, especially with a brand new website and domain. However, it’s important to set yourself up for success with a strong SEO foundation from the get-go. There are a thousand ways to advertise your business, but when the dust clears, it’s still quality SEO that reigns above all of others. If done correctly, people who are actively looking for what you have to offer will consistently trickle into your website. As far as sales scenarios go, they don’t get much better than that.
Start by researching long-tail keywords (smaller words strung together as phrases that people search for) that you’ll be able to win on. You can do this yourself using Google’s planning tool, but we recommend once again turning to Fiverr. There are plenty of skilled professionals there who will do quality keyword research for very agreeable prices. You’ll need to provide them with a website URL, some competitors, and a few example keywords (these can be as broad/general as “business”). What you’ll get back is a list of quality keywords, mostly likely organized into categories according to their best application.
Once you have your keywords, you can begin stringing them into the content on your website. Focus on 2-3 keywords per page and make sure that you include your keywords in the headers and repeatedly throughout body content. Use different keywords for different pages; using the same keyword too many times across too many pages can actually hurt your ranking on Google.
There are plenty of tools out there to assist you with SEO. Wix and Squarespace have their own built-in tools, and if you’re using WordPress, we recommend either the Yoast or RankMath plugins. They’ll provide you with an audit of your overall optimization, and will give you direction for improvement.
Lastly, make it “really” real by incorporating. Not only does this grant more legitimacy to your business in the eyes of a consumer, but it also provides some liability protection. We should note, we are not lawyers and this is not a blog about legal matters, so we cannot advise on best practices or the fine print surrounding entity incorporation, but we can point your towards some companies that make the process very simple. Take a look at either one of these guys when you’re ready for the next step:
- Incfile has a sleek, easy-to-use interface that makes incorporating a breeze. They also have a number of different price points, ranging from a budget option with the bare essentials to a premium option that comes with everything under the sun.
- LegalZoom offers entity incorporation via a similarly smooth interface, along with a litany of other resources and services (if you opt for their subscription).
Once you’re done, pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself on starting a new business! It’s a lot of work for one weekend, certainly, but that hard work will provide you with the needed building blocks for a career you’ll love.