MY NEW WEBSITE – Why I chose to rebrand, and how I did it myself.
I just recently redid my website for the fourth, yes fourth time in 4 years. In this article I’m going to explain what motivated me to do that, why rebranding is important, and what helped me to be able to do it myself. Hopefully my experience will help you too if you want to DIY your own branding and website!
CHOOSING A WEBSITE PLATFORM FOR MY ECOMMERCE BUSINESS
When I started this business 4 years ago my husband built me a WordPress site, but I felt it was too difficult for me to use and update easily. Eventually we changed to a Squarespace site, which was certainly more user friendly and intuitive. However, over the course of a couple of years I came to realize there were just too many limitations for me on Squarespace.
For example, you can’t make creative discounts in Squarespace, so if I wanted to offer my customers a BOGO offer, or buy 2 get 25% off, or buy this and get that, I just couldn’t do it.
Another problem that may seem small but was kind of a big deal to me, is that you can pretty much control all the colors on the site so everything matches your brand colors, but I could not change the “sold” badge from black to any other color. It was the only black on my whole site, and it stood out like a sore thumb. I emailed Squarespace support about it, and they just said it could not be changed and they have no plans to make it possible to change it. This kind of limited functionality became too much for me, so I started looking at other options.
I was seriously considering Shopify, because it’s supposed to be the best platform for ecommerce sites. Some of the small business podcasts I listen to recommend it and talk about its benefits, so I was starting to think it was a good fit.
However, when I started looking at pricing I realized it was going to cost me about $900/year for Shopify plus the add-ons I would need, or more! That’s about double what I was paying for my Squarespace account. Yikes.
So, this process eventually led me back to WordPress and WooCommerce where I had first started. The problem with WordPress is that you do need to be somewhat tech-savvy to use it. Thankfully my husband is, and he has a bit of experience with building sites. I have had to learn a lot as well about how to use it.
Building a website from scratch is HARD work. You have to think of everything from layout to functionality, colors and fonts of every single thing need to be changed to be “on brand” otherwise it feels messy and confusing. Photos need to be optimized for fast loading and resized to fit various places. You have to write a lot of copy, for example on the “About” page. And don’t even get me started on shipping profiles, working on that made my head feel like it was going to explode.
We finally launched the website February 3rd because I had to make a deadline for myself, or it never would have happened. And even though we launched, there are still several things that need to be tweaked. Some things that we’ve already changed have reverted back for some reason as well. Ugh, it’s really not easy.
So, while I personally feel WordPress is the right platform for me, if you are technologically challenged and you don’t have a budget to hire a web developer or have a techy family member you can exploit, I recommend trying Squarespace or Shopify, depending on your budget.
WHY I CHOSE TO REBRAND MY BUSINESS
First of all, what is a “brand” anyway? A lot of people view it as just the logo and colors of your business. That is definitely part of it, but there’s actually a whole lot more involved.
Your “brand” is more of a feeling than a tangible thing you can see. It includes visual things, like your colors, logo, fonts and pictures. But it also includes your story, your voice, the entire experience a customer gets from the moment they encounter your company.
I first came to learn about branding by listening to the Jewellers Academy Podcast by Jessica Rose. This is a great podcast that I pretty much binged last summer, I highly recommend it to other jewelry makers. On this episode she interviewed Fiona Humberstone of The Brand Stylist. I loved the interview so much I listened to it a few times. I was fascinated by the idea of branding and just had to get Fiona’s book, How to Style Your Brand.
As I began reading Fiona’s book, I realized that although I had a logo and fonts and colors, I had never actually developed a “brand”.
Here’s the biggest thing you need to know about your brand: it’s not about you, it’s about your customer. That’s a hard thing to wrap your mind around, especially as a creative person. As a creative person I probably thought that my brand should be an expression of who I am and what my products are like. But in fact, it’s about how your customer feels when they encounter your business, the two things are related, but they are different. And really, you first need to get to know your customers.
Over the past couple of years since I started my business, I’ve grown a lot as an artist, and my direction has changed. As my art has changed, I began to attract different customers than I started out with. My pricing has also changed as I’ve come to understand better how price properly, and as I’ve begun to include more expensive materials in my designs, such as gold and opals.
These factors, and others, made me recognize the need to rebrand, to give my customers a brand that truly represents them and what they expect to get from my small business.
HOW I DIY’d MY BUSINESS REBRAND
Some of the questions in Fiona’s book were things like: “Why do your customers buy from you?” “What do they love about what you do?” Well, I could probably have guessed at the answers, but instead I decided to poll my customers and Instagram audience.
I was overwhelmed by the responses I got. For example, replies such as: “every piece is unique”, “I love the use of copper and the combination of colors”, “it’s not like anything I’ve ever found anyplace else”. These kinds of comments helped me really narrow down what it is that is important to my customers.
By no means was this process easy! To really get it right you have to do some serious soul-searching, and then you have to be able to make gut decisions and be able to stick with them. Don’t just listen to any friend or family member with an opinion. You know your business and your customers better than anyone, put in the work, then trust yourself.
One major advantage of branding your business is that you create a set of peramiters for yourself. Then, as you encounter various decisions that need to be made, it’s much easier to make those decisions. For example, if I need to do a photography shoot now, decisions like wardrobe, lighting, and background choices are so much easier to make. Rather than an entire world of choices, I have a much smaller selection to choose from.
BUILDING A NEW WEBSITE
After months of working on my rebrand, I felt pretty good about what I had put together. But it was during this process that I realized I really needed a better website that could grow with my company.
About the same time, I discovered Flourish and Thrive Academy and the podcast Thrive by Design by Tracy Matthews. After binging on several episodes of the podcast I decided it was time for me to invest in the business side of my business and get some coaching. I signed up for Laying the Foundation, a 9-week online course about building and growing a product-based business.
What LTF has helped me with the most is nailing down WHO my customer is and WHY I do what I do. These are fundamental things to really understand and get right in order to have a successful business these days. While it was a pretty big investment, I felt it was worth it to do at this stage in my business, as I am trying to grow my business so it can become the main income source for my family.
I don’t know where you are in the process of growing your business, but hopefully some of the things that helped me will help you as well. I’ve put links to all the podcasts, books, and websites I mentioned in this article, that way you can see what’s right for you. We all have our own idea of what success looks like, and we all are on our own journey. But I’m a big believer in “community over competition”, I wouldn’t have gotten this far without help from fellow makers. Hopefully my experience will help some fellow makers as well.