We don’t really think about “telling our story” when we meet people offline. It’s something that just develops naturally as the relationship grows. We find great joy in uncovering new facets of our friends’ personalities and new stories from their past.
The same thing happens online, but faster. Much, much faster.
Because of the overwhelming information available online, users are accustomed to being able to find what they’re looking for in a matter of seconds. And they scroll past anything that doesn’t match what they have in mind.
When someone lands on your site for the first time, you have approximately 5 seconds (the number changes from 3 seconds to 8 seconds depending on who you ask) to capture the attention of your visitor and keep it.
5 seconds doesn’t sound like a lot, but you’d be amazed how much you can communicate in that amount of time with the right images, colours, and layout.
The trick is to make each element count. Each element tells just one part of the story and together they paint a full picture.
And when you’re done, you’ll have that perfect website that tells your story as deliciously as Brene Brown would. Or Neil Gaiman. Or Coco Chanel. Or YOU.
Because the number one element that will amaze your audience is being your most authentic and unique self. YOU are the shining star your visitors have been searching for and they’ll know it at a glance. They’ll feel it the instant the page loads.
Here are my top tips for communicating your brilliance in a blink:
One clear message
I know, I know, you have a lot to say. And that’s good!
But, save most of it for your daily posts on social media where you’ll have a new chance to share your ideas everyday.
Your website is not the place for ALL.the.things.
Each page of your site should display one clear message that’s repeated in new and different ways each time.
Let’s say you sell printed t-shirts. That’s your product. But the t-shirts you sell are focused on eco-friendly solutions. They’re made from eco-friendly materials and have designs that promote planet-friendly practices. In this example, your clear message might be, “we humans need to make caring for our environment an everyday activity.”
This message should be clear on every page of your site. You not only want to broadcast this message on every page, but you also want to delete every example that may seem contradictory to this message.
That way, your readers will know exactly what you stand for, what your values are, and what matters to you the most. And they’ll love you for it!
You become their go-to source for all things eco-friendly. They’ll look to you first, before searching the web for it.
Photos that show off your unique personality
The human brain is designed to read visuals. We’re capable of processing images 60,000 times faster than text alone.
This means the photos and images on your site are a BIG part of the storytelling. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you’re choosing which ones to use:
Firstly, people want to see you. They want to know what you look like and that includes the clothes you wear, makeup, facial expression and even the type of environment you work in.
Are you quirky? Elegant? Creative? Earthy? Modern? Visitors to your site should be able to tell at a glance. Use photos that show off the parts of your personality that are most important to your brand. If you’re a coach and you have a lot of fun on client calls, often resulting in laughter and silliness, then let that shine through in your photos!
If that fits you to a T with friends and family, but not in your business, then skip those photos and use the ones that match your business personality instead.
For our t-shirt example, we’d expect to see earthy brown and green tones, potted plants in the background, nature images etc. And if we saw a sleek, black and white office filled with plastic accessories instead, we’d question the integrity of this business. Not because of the color choices (which are fine) but because of the abundance of planet-polluting plastic that doesn’t fit the eco-friendly message.
Another way to add personality without having to plaster your site with selfies is to include the things that bring you joy each day. Readers do like to see personal touches. So, if your favorite pen is a magic unicorn fairy wand, make sure you include at least one pic of that!
Your “About Me” page isn’t really about you
I know that sounds crazy, but here’s the thing – your site visitors came here because they were searching for a solution. They don’t know you well enough to care about your life story. This is why a successful “About Me” page is about what you can do for them.
Honestly, the average website reader doesn’t care what your childhood was like or who you’re married to (unless your biz helps them find love and marriage). They care about what that means for them.
So, the fact that you once thought Duran Duran was the greatest thing ever is only something you should include in your About Me page if your goal is to attract other people who love Duran Duran and want to buy T-shirts with the band’s name on it.
When you write your About Me page, write it first in whatever way comes naturally. Then, go back and rephrase each sentence as if you were answering the question “Why is this important to my customer?”
For example, “My love of Duran Duran is what led me to design band T-shirts when I was a teen. And that’s when I learned how much plastic is released from synthetic shirts into the environment, every time they’re washed. Now I’m on a mission to save the planet by supplying eco-friendly band T-shirts to music lovers around the world.”
How you sell is part of the story too
The purpose of a website is to generate income.
If you’re a blogger, you’ll probably use ads on your site, affiliate links, and/or write sponsored posts.
If you’re a business owner, network marketer, course creator, freelancer, or solopreneur, you’ll use your site to sell your products or services.
Whichever camp you fit in, here’s how to reinforce the message and story you’re trying to tell in a way that makes money while also building trust and credibility in your brand:
When you’re looking for ads to use or affiliate programs to support ask yourself “Is this product aligned with my message? Is this something I believe in? Would I sell this product to my friends or family?” This is another way your site reinforces your message and brand story.
If you’re selling your own products or services (including MLM products) you need to make it as easy as possible for your customer to go from vague interest to buying.
You’ll do this using sales funnels, which is a technical term for building online relationships. Sales funnels help strangers find what they’re looking for and then gently guide them to purchasing something.
Sales funnels are incredibly versatile. When done right, they reinforce your personality and make the person on the other end feel like they’re getting to know you. When done badly, they make the person feel like a transaction and leave them regretting their purchase. Sales funnels themselves are just a tool, it’s up to you to fill them with personality!
This may seem like overkill but trust me, in today’s climate and with today’s laws, this is necessary.
Most people will never read them. But having them in the footer of every page builds trust and credibility in your brand. It shows that you take your business seriously and you care about their online security.
No matter what business you’re in, what your brand looks like, or what service you provide privacy is essential.
The terms and conditions help your customer to know what they can expect from you and help to clear up any grey areas before they occur. If it’s spelled out, there can be no misunderstandings.
Having these 2 documents on your site also builds trust with all the bots crawling your site. This means search engines will take your site more seriously and increase your search engine rank. When people share links to your site on social media, that platform’s bots will see those documents in the footer and label your site as a trusted site, worthy of sharing.
Your story becomes part of your visitor’s story
The main reason for sharing your story online is because it inspires strangers to see their success in your success. You are the person who can help them solve this problem in their life.
Whether their problem is what to wear tomorrow, how to grow their business, how to live a low-tox lifestyle, or how to find their soulmate, your story helps them believe in the possibility and dare to dream.
Your journey becomes the path they want for their journey.
You become the person who can help them become the person they most want to be.
Yes, even if you’re selling T-shirts!
Your customers buy from you because they like you, believe in you, and trust you. They can’t do that until they find you and get to know you. Use your website to show up in search engines and build relationships with your visitors. Show potential customers who you are and who you aren’t. And yes – you’re likely to send some readers clicking away quickly because they don’t like what they see!
You want that.
Yes, you want to repel people who don’t “get you.” Particularly if you’re selling a service.
You’ll fall in love with the people you attract when you let them fall in love with the real you before booking a sales call.