Mapping out your web presence can be a real pain in the ass!

In Branding, Marketing by Chris Foley

Why it matters: Because confused visitors do not take action.


Why it matters: Because confused visitors do not take action.


You know what? I have a newfound appreciation for what my customers go through when faced with the daunting task of clarifying their message so that it can be broken down into bits of content on a website. It turns out that mapping out one's web presence can be a real pain in the ass!

Sometimes we know exactly what it is that we do with our businesses, but we don't always know how to communicate it in the most web-friendly manner possible.

Other times we’re not even entirely clear what it is that we’re looking to do, or if we know what we want to do, we’re not entirely clear how to go about doing it, selling it, growing it, etc.

Luckily, this is exactly the sort of thing that my business is built around, and have a lot of experience with the process of how to unravel it all, break it down into bite-sized chunks, create content that supports the marketing, architect campaigns, etc, etc, etc.

Every once in a while I find myself facing a rather difficult customer with a complex offering, a varied and unusual story, or a product that might need some rethinking. And every once in a while that customer is ME.

Well, as it turns out, I’m not the kind of customer that I can fire, or walk away from, so I eventually had to send myself back to the drawing board, which is something that I frequently have to do with a customer who isn’t ready to build a site, much to their (and my) surprise.

See, I had thought that it all made sense in my head, but when I sat down to map it all out, that stuff in my head just didn’t work in a business plan, and I got very clear that I needed to refine, well, everything that I’d been thinking about for the past year. Might this sound familiar to you, Dear Reader? If you’re one of the several clients who have tried to hire me to build a site only to be sent back to the biz dev drawing board, you’re probably laughing at me right now. And honestly, I’m laughing right along with you.

I sure didn’t expect that I would need to have FOUR WEBSITES of my own to accomplish my goals in a clear and effective way. Four. Four different websites. Oh My God. How unwieldy. Inconvenient. And perfect. There’s just no other way.

Okay, enough hints and preamble, here’s what I’m dealing with. Hopefully you see something of yourself in all of this.

I own a Web Strategy firm that designs and develops websites, manages long and short-term online marketing campaigns, handles SEO and SEM Marketing, and creates content for those marketing efforts. That’s the easy one. That's this site that you're currently on. The site is complete -- to the extent that any website is every complete -- it’s effective, it’s out there in the world, and it’s doing its job: turning visitors into leads. Then it’s my job to turn those leads into customers where appropriate. Fine.

And now for the monkey wrench. I have a lot going on in my head that I need to get out into the world and turn into additional revenue streams. My original plan was to have the PXLPOD Web Strategy site doing its thing, and then combine my other products and services into another site, which would be more of a personal blog cum Freelancer Support service site cum Photography for Sale/Hire site cum Informational Product and Subscription Marketing Portal…. WOAH WOAH WOAH. What?

One of the major tenants of my Web Strategy consulting is to keep your message and offering as simple as possible! And here I am violating my own rules. The funny thing is that I’d actually built it out already. Without mapping it out first; another violation of the very rules I coach to others! Well, as you can imagine, the finished product was a ginormous mess, and all the traffic in the world wasn’t turning into leads. One of the products we offer is the Website Makeover, and often times it’s just a matter of reorganizing a website, fixing up the navigation elements, and creating a Home Page that tells a better story. My mess of a site was just not salvageable; it was not going to benefit from a PXLPOD Website Makeover!

What I needed was to pull all of my things apart and start seeing it from the prospect/customer/visitors’ point of view.

Alright, alright, alright...

Site #1: PXLPOD Web Strategy is my main business site where we promote our web strategy services. Fine. That’s clear.

Site #2: And then I have another full blog site, which is where I will put all of my Freelancer Support articles, and where I will eventually put up my Premium Freelancer Support products (coming soon.)

Site #3: Next, I have a site dedicated to my own photography work. It was important that I take that content off of this site, as it was getting in the way of the Freelancer content and was confusing to the visitor, and to myself as an administrator! MISHA.MEDIA is where I put up Fine Art Prints for sale and post articles about my journey into life as a visual artist; a place I never saw myself going.

Site #4: Last, there’s the travel blog which we started back when we began planning out move to France. We ended up living in Southern France for just over two years, though we keep that site open and running because it’s still getting a fair amount of traffic, and the various affiliate banners on that site are bringing in a steady bit of supplemental revenue. All good there. (--UPDATE - This site has been taken down. See what I mean? Too much to manage!)

We’ve all heard this: Measure twice, cut once. That is so true, and I’m glad that I’ve finally figured it all out. When a site doesn’t have a really clear presentation everyone gets confused, including the site owner, and there’s a very important lesson to be learned here.

Confused people do not take action.

Confused visitors do not buy, or subscribe and just as bad, confused site owners don’t publish content regularly, and the entire thing goes bad.

Map it out before you build. Iterate. Repeat.

Image Credit: Nicola, Flickr Creative Commons.


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