- Step 1: Domain Name
- Step 2: Platform
- Step 3: Hosting
- Step 4: Email
- Step 5: Design & Branding
- Step 6: Content
- Step 7: Scheduling
- Step 8: Accepting Payments
- Step 9: Social Media
- Step 10: Mailing List
- Step 11: Affiliate Programs
This is the address people would use to get to your website. Some of mine include johnpolemis.com, youarewhoyoucreate.com, and hudsonvalleyforesttherapy.com. That “.com” at the end is called a top-level domain name. .com is most common but there are tons of them out there these days, even “.coach” which is more expensive.
When choosing a name first name a list of name ideas – a long, long list. The worst part of this process will be finding a name that 1) looks good and 2) is not taken. There are people who hoard good-sounding names to sell at overinflated prices.
You then need to register the name. I often use GoDaddy but some of the hosts (step 3 below) allow you to register the name through them (there are pros and cons to this, mostly coming down to if you think you would be moving platforms any time soon).
Ultimately you would need to point that domain to where your website will be hosted (step 3) by following the host’s instructions for setting up DNS. This can vary with the host but most prefer you use them as the DNS source and then they can manage most of the technicalities for you and make it more seamless.
The platform is what will create your website. Some create the whole thing from scratch but most people these days use a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress, Joomla, or hosted solutions like WiX. These make it easier to create pages and use various existing templates for the design. Some templates are free, and others can cost $50 or more. The paid templates tend to be nicer, and allow for more flexibility when customizing the look.
The nice thing about templates is you can switch them and see how they look instantly.
WordPress is probably the most common and the one I use for all my websites. However these platforms need to be maintained (kept updated) and secured. They may also need additional plugins to get all the features you want. Like with template, some are free and some are not.
This is where you need to make a pretty big decision: Do you want to use a hosted/managed platform, or manage your own platform.
A hosted/managed platform means that a service provides the platform and you just use it. WiX is a popular one for beginners and non-technically people. They are less flexible but they work pretty well. Some CMS like WordPress have services that can manage it for you but they get a bit more expensive.
Managing your own platform means you install, configure, and maintain the app. This is of course cheaper, BUT if you do not keep up on this you can get hacked and that is a pain to clean up. If you pay someone to set you up, they will often offer a service contract to handle all this, but that can get more expensive than just finding a managed platform. So this is better for the more technical-minded.
Hosting is where the website resides. If you are using a managed/hosted platform they are also your host and all this is included in your plan’s fees.
If you are managing your own platform then you need to find a host. I currently use SiteGround and I love them. GoDaddy can also host websites and they are ok if you are a beginner.
I was not happy using HostGator (great price/features, very poor support) and Verio (increasingly disappointing support). So if looking for a host it is best to speak to others and get recommendations of what they like and what they hated. There are many decent ones out there at decent prices but beware the discount hosts!
You may want to use your domain name for your email address. This can look more professional than using a Gmail address. Many hosts (Step 3) offer email options in their plans. For some it is included, and others it is an added service. A good service will have both webmail access (i.e. you can check mail from the web) as well as options to add to your PC and phone.
Keep in mind email uses up space which counts toward disk usage on your hosting plan. There are also dedicated mail hosting services separate from your web host but unless you have special needs, the more you can leverage your web host, the less you have to spend elsewhere.
Branding is a consistent look and feel that you can use for all your promotional material, be it the website, business cards, flyers, etc. besides perhaps a logo, this means finding a set of colors and fonts that reflect your business and style. Some colors and fonts may look classy, others playful, others very executive-minded. So finding the right “voice” for you helps make your website and promo materials extensions of yourself.
To find a nice color palette (matching colors to use on a website) check out
To consider some font matching idea check out the below link or google “website font pairings.”
Many templates use google fonts, but not all, so be sure to check your theme’s options before purchasing.
I admit, since I have a lot of websites I often cheat and look at various templates for ideas. Once I find a base that resonates with me, I begin to make changes to make it my own. I can change the colors and fonts on the better templates and perfect the look. Take some time and explore the template options for ideas. Many pro (paid) templates have free versions you can start with to see how it looks.
Content comes in two forms:
First there is the core of your site – the main pages every coach’s website needs: a page that introduces you, a page that talks about your services, a page to book with you, and a contact page. Plus the home page which is a quick intro. If you look around on the web at other coach’s pages you will see there is a pretty standard logic most follow. KEEP IT SIMPLE. You can always add more later, but start with the basics.
The “about the coach” page is very important. It is usually the second page a visitor goes to after the home page.
These articles will help in writing your bio:
Second, providing valuable information, such as found in blogging is a great way to build credibility and a following if you can keep up with it (at least once a week). I am not so great here. I either write a lot or nothing for weeks. If you have social media you can share the blog there too. It is a good way to invite people back to your website to read the articles you linked.
Every blog post needs a photo, and most web pages can use a nice photo. You know, the cheesy image of someone climbing a mountain, or closeup of shaking hands.
Tip: if you need to add photos Pixabay has tons of cool royalty free photos and art you can use.
You will probably want a photo of you. It makes you more human and relatable. You can either splurge on a professional or find a friend and take lots and lots AND LOTS of photos. Chances are there are a few gems in the mix which you can use.
If you have scheduled a meeting with me you already know I am in love with Acuity Scheduling.
They have a free option which is very workable. However, for $15 a month you can sync it with your personal calendar(s) and send out email reminders for appointments.
You can integrate the booking calendar right into your website or you can just send clients a custom link to your calendar.
When you sync with your calendar you do not need to worry about back-and-forth on availability, which is very handy.
You can also find some booking solutions with your platform in step 2. I see WiX has a nice booking option but I do not know if it syncs with your calendar. WordPress has many options for a price, mostly around the same as Acuity. Not all plugins sync with all available calendar types so read the details carefully.
When considering payment options, consider also how those payments can be automated with things such as your booking solution (in step 7). Paypal is probably one of the more universally accepted forms of payment processing, when in doubt.
One thing to consider as you begin to plan to accept payments is will you have dedicated accounts for your business. Your accountant would say that is a good idea. I found Citizens Bank had a great free business checking account so if you have access to a branch, it is worth checking out.
Besides making your accountant happy, using an account under your business name looks more professional, which never hurts!
Here are some articles to help in making your decision.
Social media is a great resource for building credibility and finding clients. When blogging or offering events or workshops, sharing that information on social media will help drive traffic to your website.
Here are a few of the key social media services for coaches:
Facebook – The power of Facebook is in its commonality and number-wise has more users than the other services. A wide range of people use it, and its advertising allows you to target specific demographics that fit your niche. Create a dedicated coach page so as to keep your personal posts separate.
Twitter – Like Facebook, twitter has a wide range of users and is a popular option for following industry influencers. Twitter is arguably more popular with professionals than facebook and generally has cheaper advertising than facebook.
LinkedIn – This is especially popular with professionals and many coaches use this platform for that reason. This is a great platform if your niche focuses on professionals.
Meetup – While not exactly social media, it is a social service. This is a great tool to use when your marketing includes providing events and workshops.
Mailing lists allow you to cultivate a list of potential clients who already know of you and were interested enough to add themselves to the list. Use this wisely!
The best way to get people to join your list is to offer something of value for free. This can be a simple ebook, or it can be a weekly email with tips especially valuable to your niche. If you are writing blogs, they can be re-purposed for such mailings.
While you could maintain your own list manually, many subscribe to a mailing list service which can integrate with your website. Such services automate the subscription process, allow subscribers to manage their subscription settings, and make it easy to send out attractive mailing.
While reviews will vary for these services, the below reviews offer some good ideas to which service may be best for you.
Once you begin to create content, consider using affiliate links for any product or service you mention.
It’s not easy to maintain steady income when starting out, so every opportunity to draw in a little extra cash doesn’t hurt. The trick is to do so without compromising your content.
This site, for example, discusses some options for online scheduling and since we would be linking to the services mentioned anyway, why not check to see if those services offer affiliate links? A simple search for the service name followed by “affiliate program” is usually enough to find out which ones offer it and how to sign up.
Likewise, if mentioning a book or product, Amazon’s affiliate program is a simple way to monetize any links.
Depending on the type of website you have, online ads such as Google Adsense may be useful, but could also link to competition. I tend to find advertising is great for topical blogs and informational websites, rather than for websites promoting specific products or services. Google’s adsense can be rather strict and limiting, so if you find yourself frustrated with them consider these alternatives.
While affiliate options may inspire ideas for content, avoid the temptation to lose credibility in the process. Do your research.