Eighteen Letters to Improve Your Brand
by Ira McMahon
You’ve been there before. Hours into the party, you’re approached by the person your career has been dreaming about.
You chat. It’s going splendidly and then comes the dreaded line, “Well we would love to see some of your work, do you have a website?”
You stutter, trying to find an alternative… “Well… I can send you a CD! Just jot your address down on this… this cocktail napkin! It’ll get there in a week or two!”
As they attempt to scribble their address around the wine stain on your napkin, a feeling of dread starts to sink in.
The internet is an incredible thing. We use it everyday to facebook, email, and tweet about our exciting lives. We don’t always think about the power and magic of the internet though.
All we need these days to communicate everything about ourselves, to create a portal to our entire lives, is about eighteen letters: JaneSmithOpera.com.
Nothing more is necessary to showcase everything we’ve ever done. From our website, we can display videos, sound clips, articles, pictures, praise, biographies, contact information – everything.
Those eighteen letters are suddenly the most important and most valuable eighteen letters you can have because they open doors and opportunities. They allow you to be found, to be linked to, to have a presence where you cannot be.
“But I have a Facebook page!” Yes, you do. We all do, and it’s great. It’s just not so great when a client goes to see your photos on it and sees the comment from your mom, “Jane, I didn’t know you liked martinis?? Who’s that guy standing next to you?” All that time spent working on your image and your air of professionalism just caught the next draft out the window.
A website is your professional window to the world (not saying that everything we do isn’t entirely professional and brimming with class, of course!) It is the window that allows you to be seen in all your creativity, class and skill at all times.
But wait! Websites are expensive aren’t they? Google’s website is very expensive. Facebook’s website, as well, is very expensive. Yours doesn’t have to be though. Websites can range from almost free to as expensive as you want them to be. There are a couple things to know to make this decision.
One is whether you want a custom website. A nice custom website for a portfolio, small business, or personal site should cost somewhere from one to three thousand dollars. It should include a Content Management System (CMS) so that it is easy to update yourself and so that you won’t have to pay someone to update it all the time. After the initial fee, it should only cost what it takes to host your website (~ $70/year) and keep your domain name (~ $10/year). That’s it!
If the money for a custom website is too much for now, don’t let that stop you from getting a website. Templates are available for a very low cost, sometimes even free. It’s good to get a template that goes with a popular CMS, like WordPress, so that there’s plenty of support and it’s more powerful. The free website builders that come with web hosting are often a bad idea.
The downside to templates, of course, is that they are not a direct reflection of you. You can choose a design, sometimes pick colors, but generally get a typical layout with small amounts of customization. Which is okay! It is hundreds of times better to have a template than no website at all. Maybe start with a template today and when that website makes you money, consider a custom website. Just make sure you have a website so that the next time you are without CD’s, you can just recite your eighteen letters.
Ira McMahon spent the last few years in Denver building websites for companies such as the University of Denver, Malenke | Barnhart and the Integer Group. Last year, he decided to quit the corporate world, move up to the mountains of Breckenridge and start his own company building small websites. Please feel free to get in touch and chat about any website or branding questions you might have. He’s always happy to point you in the right direction. Ira can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through Tang Web Studio at tangwebstudio.com.