I built SixElements.com over 7 years ago to promote my home staging, color consulting and interior redesign business. It was only the second website I had ever created, so part of my limitation in constructing it was what I could figure out how to do on my own programming-wise. This is tricky though because you can’t put up a site that looks like an amateur built it or you will scare away potential customers.
Fortunately I love technical challenges and so I devoted thousands of hours to learning about programming and how to get found by search engines. The site evolved over the years as my knowledge expanded but the basic structure of SixElements.com remained the same.
It was a professional looking site and it served me well. In fact the original SixElements.com site attracted most of the media attention I’ve received since becoming a home stager.
The site also brought me hundreds of home staging clients each year and was the launching pad for the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program five years ago before I created StagingDiva.com as a stand alone website.
So if the site worked, why change it?
Aside from wanting to update the look and content of SixElements.com, I wanted to convert it from HTML to a WordPress blog. I knew this structural change would have a favorable effect on my search engine rankings. By the way, that’s also why I turned the Staging Diva Directory of Home Stagers into a blog site about 2 years ago.
Over 7 years, SixElements.com had grown to about 40 pages so there was a lot of material to go through. Much of the content was tossed out in the conversion because I realized that what I was proud of a couple of years ago, just didn’t cut it for me now.
As with a house decluttering project, getting rid of old stuff that no longer serves you well makes room for the new. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of those words and pictures, but you must if they don’t “fit” anymore!
Despite having the personal experience of building websites since 1999, it still took me 6 months to complete this
project, with the new SixElements.com going live March 1. I spent hundreds of hours of my own time in addition to hiring a designer and programmer for help.
I’m sharing this story in the hopes that it will give you some insight into what it will take to build your own site and to show you that there are many variations before we get to what we want, even if we’ve done this before.
The other lesson is that our portfolio and story are never done.
They evolve along with our talent and experience. We will forever find new ways to do things and while that’s a giant pain, sometimes it’s also the blessing that comes with being creative.
I’ve included here only two of the many earlier concepts that were rejected. The design of any site, logo, etc. evolves through trial and error. It does not happen overnight. So you should plan for 3 to 6 months from start to finish if you want a really professional website built from scratch.
The new site allows me to add new content easily in the blog post section. Since search engines consider how often you update your content when they are deciding where to rank your site, this is another reason I moved to a blog structure instead of the previous standard HTML site I had.
Once I finish fooling around with all the wording and links on each page so that they are pleasing to readers, next comes the critical job of ensuring my content will attract search engines.
There are many tricks to this which I discuss in the Staging Diva Program.
Even though I launched my new SixElements.com site this week, I’m still “optimizing” all the pages for search engines. This can easily take an extra hour per page. I’ll also continue to add blog posts too, as I round out my online portfolio.
What if your site isn’t working?
If you have your own website, make sure it’s creating the right first impression with your potential customers. Building a site is hard but your visitors don’t care about that. They expect you to invest in a professional web presence, whether you’ve done it yourself or hired an expert.
So if you have visitors to your current website (or directory listing), but your phone is not ringing, that’s a sign that your content isn’t doing the marketing job you hoped.
It could be the look and feel of how the information is presented. Often the problem is your choice of photos and how you’ve written about your services.
Your site has to look professional but if your content is poor, it won’t motivate people to contact you.
All of these elements warrant constant re-evaluation to keep what you’re doing fresh and professional. When you are a member of the Staging Diva Directory of Home Stagers, we encourage you to update your content at minimum once a year. Some members update their listings 2 or 3 times per year to replace portfolio shots with new projects, and to add testimonials and staging success stories.
If no one is visiting your site and it’s hard for search engines to find, then you need to focus on optimization strategies. This is a complex topic that constantly changes as the Internet evolves. I probably spend more of my “behind the scenes” time on this than anything else to do with my business.
This may all sound like “techno mumbo jumbo” to you, and if you are getting a panicky feeling thinking about building your own site and learning about how search engines work, know that you don’t have to master all this because I’m here to help.
As long as you’re a graduate of the Staging Diva Program, all you have to do is send us 600 words of content, the list of areas you work in, your contact information, photos, logo and we’ll take it from there! In fact, the Staging Diva Team can have you on the Internet in 7 days from when you order and submit your material!
> Learn more about joining the Staging Diva Directory of Home Stagers