Plan out your website content
In Chapter 3, you'll make a game plan for your website's organization. You'll identify your core pages and gather images, copy, and branding elements to use while you build. A bit of preparation now can save you time when you sit down to build your site.
There are two types of road trippers: those who meticulously plan itineraries months in advance, and those who jump in the car and see where they end up. The same is true for building a website.
Some creators plan out exactly what they will say on their sites. They prefer having an outline—or map—to guide their website-building process. Other creators dive in head first and let their websites take shape as they go. Both of these methods are totally fine.
If you want to start by getting your hands dirty, skip ahead to Chapter 4 . You can get a feel for your website-building tool and then revisit Chapter 3 later if you need more direction.
If you prefer to prep your website materials in advance, keep reading.
By the end of this chapter, you’ll have:
Ideas for your website’s structure
Brand elements like your font, color scheme, and logo
Customer testimonials and success stories
An outline or draft of your website copy
Which pages does your website need? First, outline your website structure
One of the best ways to start building your website is with old-fashioned brainstorming. Grab a piece of paper or open a Word document and write out everything you would like your website to contain.
Here’s what mine looks like for Your Best Road Trip .
Next, take your ideas and loosely organize them into pages. This can all change as you build, but it’s helpful to have a general idea of where each piece of information will live.
Your website might include the following pages:
Home: An overview of your business, products, and services that contains links to important areas of your website.
About: Tell potential customers more about you and your business. What do you make? What’s your backstory? How long have you been in business?
Contact: How can clients get in touch with you if they have questions?
Individual product pages: Every item or offer you sell should have its own sales page . This is where you tell prospective buyers how the product can help them and what they can expect.
Services: If you offer services, add a services page with different plans and packages.
Shop: If you have a lot of products, you might also consider making a storefront directory page where visitors can find all your offers in one place.
Start here: A “Start Here” page can guide first-time visitors to the right information. For instance, if you offer advanced programs but you want people to start with your introductory ebook, a “Start Here” page can point them in that direction. Here are two examples of what this page can look like:
You can also use a digital tool like MindMup to map out how your pages connect to one another. Here’s the mind map I made for Your Best Road Trip. Each line represents a link and each bubble represents a page. To the side, I added notes about what goes on each page.
This exercise can help you identify connections throughout your work, and it also helps you identify unnecessary information. If you can’t find a logical place to put something, ask yourself if you should include it on your website at all.
Assemble your brand elements for faster building
Brand elements are design features that you’ll use across your site. They make your website unique and can help you stand out from the competition, and it’s always fun to make a page feel like you.
Here are some brand elements to gather to give your website a cohesive look.
The easy way to choose brand colors (even for nondesigners)
Colors! Your color palette is a set of colors that you use to identify your brand. You’ll use these colors in all of your creative assets, including your logo, product images, and website pages.
If you already have a signature color you use in your branding, great! If not, you can build a color palette for your business in minutes using Coolors .
Look for one or two colors that pop and one or two neutral colors that you can use in the background.
For example, Adrian Dalsus from Despegue Musical uses bright purple and bright pink to give energy and excitement to his website. He also uses a soft gray color in the background to make his bright colors stand out.
If you’d like to dive deeper into color theory, this article by HubSpot goes into the emotions associated with different hues . You can also explore feelings and phrases associated with each color, according to a Colour in Branding infographic by Iconic Fox.
I need a color palette for Your Best Road Trip, so I went to Coolors and browsed their automatically generated palettes.
After clicking the space bar a few times, this color combination caught my eye.
I really like the tomato and champagne colors. I also think the softer blue color will work well for background sections on my website. I’ll write down these color hex codes (#FE654F) so I can get an exact match when I’m creating graphics and working on my site.
What font should you choose for your website?
Even though we might not realize it, fonts can evoke a range of emotions just like colors. Serif fonts tend to come across as more serious and professional while sans-serif fonts have a more casual and playful feel.
Fonts should always be easy to read, large enough to be legible, and consistent across your website.
Font pitfalls to avoid:
Don’t use too many different fonts on a page
Don’t use excessively script-y and decorative fonts that are hard to read (It’s okay to use an accent font in moderation but not for the main text of your website)
As tempting as it is to throw fifteen fun fonts on a page, I recommend sticking to a max of two fonts, one for headings that you want to call extra attention to and one for the body copy on your website.
For example, on Felicia Reed’s website, she uses a bold serif font for her headings and a smaller sans serif font for her body copy. The fonts pair nicely together and are easy to read without being distracting.
Poppins is one of my favorite fonts, so I checked out a font pairing website to see what other fonts match well with it. Merriweather and Poppins look nice together, and I like how they both feel lighthearted and easy to read.
(Note: When I put these together on my website, I actually preferred the look of just Poppins for my headings and body text. It was a good reminder that game plans can change once you get in the weeds, and that’s totally fine!)
How to make a custom logo for your website
A logo is a graphical representation of your brand. It can be words, images, or a combination of both, and often includes your brand color.
If you need to make a logo or give your existing logo a refresh, you can hire a graphic designer or use free logo-making tools like Canva and Venngage . Canva and Venngage have dozens of logo templates that you can edit to fit your brand.
Here are some logo templates available in Canva, for example:
To make my logo for Your Best Road Trip, I went to Canva and tinkered with their premade templates. I found tons of templates I liked, but I was spending way too much time modifying them and I realized I was overthinking it.
So I opened a fresh project, added a text box with my brand name, changed the font to Poppins, and updated the colors to match my palette.
Canva has some cool font styling features, so I gave my letters a slightly offset outline to make them pop.
Then I resized my image to get rid of the extra white space on the top and bottom.
A word of advice: Give yourself a time limit here. It’s easy for hours to slip away in logo land if you’re not careful.
Over 60% of brands say that having consistent branding is important when talking to customers and finding new leads, so keep your branding elements handy when setting up your website. Having your color scheme, fonts, and logo ready will make the building process go faster.
Gather testimonials and customer success stories
If you’re selling a product or service online, testimonials can give buyers confidence. 89% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase, and having good ones can put your brand ahead of competitors.
If you can collect success stories from other people, you'll have a powerful form of marketing called social proof. When potential clients see themselves in someone else's story, it's easier for them to imagine the same positive outcome.
On actor Harry Connick Jr.’s Piano Party website , for example, testimonials make it clear that members can expect a fun and joyful learning experience.
There are several places on your website where you can use testimonials, so gather them on a regular basis so you have plenty to choose from. To get testimonials for a specific product, try sending a quick email to previous customers asking these questions:
What problems were you experiencing before you used my product or service?
What made you decide to try my product or service?
How are things different or better after using my product or service?
When reaching out, make sure to specify that you plan to share the customer review on your website so the recipient can consent to their story being used.
No customers yet? No problem.
Testimonials are such a valuable marketing tool that it may be worth finding a handful of beta customers for your product or service. You’ll give them your offer for free in exchange for their honest review. Not only will you get reviews to use on your website, but you’ll also get valuable feedback about how to improve your product in the future.
Writing website copy that’s true to your unique voice
Website copy refers to the words that you use on your website. Sounds simple enough, right? But writing compelling, authentic copy is a tough task, which is why we recommend taking some time to brainstorm and outline before adding text to your website.
Here are some tips for how to write good copy, from our content team to you.
Think about who you’re helping, and why you’re helping them
In most cases, your website isn’t actually going to be about you. It’s about how you can inform, educate, entertain, or solve a problem for your target audience members.
If you offer coaching for early-stage entrepreneurs, you’re helping people build new careers for themselves and grow their businesses.
If you sell cookbooks, you’re teaching people how to make better food for their families.
If you make funny cat videos, you’re entertaining people and helping them have a brighter day.
If you have a road-tripping website, you’re helping people plan better trips and make memories.
So instead of showcasing yourself on your website, think about how you can help, connect with, entertain, or delight your target audience.
Write how you talk
You want your website to sound like you, not a boring robot version of you. One way to establish your website voice is to literally talk about your business. Record a voice note to yourself or use a talk-to-text app. You can use the transcript as the foundation for your website copy.
Use the same language as your ideal customers
What questions do people ask you about your business? What phrasing do they use when posting comments on social media? What language do your customers use in their testimonials?
For example, a potential coaching customer might say, “I feel stuck. Nothing I do is working. I just want to get off the hamster wheel.” In response, you could use this phrasing on your sales page to show your customers that you’re in tune with their pain points.
Talking to your customers about their struggles is a key part of audience research–or getting to know the needs of the people you intend to serve.
If you don’t have an audience yet, look at the comments on competitors' social media posts, blog articles, and YouTube videos to get ideas.
I went to YouTube and searched for “Road Trip Planning” videos. Here were some of the comments under the first video that came up.
There are great questions here that I can answer in my content. Saving money, where to sleep, and how much to save in advance are all topics that I should include.
Use keywords so search engines can find you
Keywords are phrases people type into search engines when they’re looking for something, like "activities for teachers", “cake recipes”, “knitting courses”, “yoga classes”, or “road trip itinerary”.
Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific keywords, and it’s great to have a few of these in your website copy.
Here are some examples of long-tail keywords:
Printable holiday activities for teachers
Gluten-free chocolate cake recipes
Best online knitting course for beginners
Online chair yoga classes
4-day east coast road trip itinerary
Ask yourself: What should people be typing in when they find your business? Include these phrases in your copy.
To get some ideas for keywords related to your niche, head to Google and type a few phrases that describe the work you do. Scroll down to the “people also search” section. This will give you some questions people ask related to your topic that you can potentially use in your website.
You can also use a free keyword research tool like Ubersuggest to get more keyword information. This tool shows you variations of your target keyword, as well as questions and similar phrases related to that keyword.
The right keywords can improve your SEO (search engine optimization) so it’s easier for target audience members to find you. More eyes often mean more sales, so let’s share your work with the world!
To learn more about SEO, check out these resources:
Draft your about page, mission statement, and product descriptions
Next, here are some pieces of copy you can start preparing for your website.
About me: Write a few paragraphs about you, your business, and what you do. You can use this on your future About page and pull out snippets when you need a quick bio section somewhere on your site.
A mission statement or elevator pitch: What do you help people do? Who is your website for? Keep this part to just a few sentences. You can go more in-depth on your About page and individual product pages.
Product and service description: What exactly are your products or services? Explain them in as much detail as possible.
If you sell ebooks, how many pages are they?
If you offer coaching, how much access do customers have to you?
If you create online courses, how many modules, lessons, or worksheets do they contain?
Think about who your product is for. We’ll put your sales pages together in Chapter 5 , so use this space for brainstorming.
Start outlining and rough drafting the text you want to share on those pages. It doesn’t have to be perfect (you might get more ideas once you see everything laid out on the page) but having something to start with makes it easier to bring your website design to life later.
Proofread and edit to avoid silly mistakes
You’d be amazed at how easy it is to forget a word or misspell your own name when you’re typing fast. (Source: I’ve done this.) To prevent unfortunate mishaps, use a tool like Grammarly or Hemingway for free proofreading.
For my road trip website, I compiled my copy research and ideas into one document so it’s handy when I open the Podia website builder. I thought about my target audience and did some audience research on social media to see what questions my potential customers have. Then I did keyword research using Google and Ubersuggest.
Here are my notes:
Create and source images that match your style
Finally, you’ll need some images for your website. From your own photos, find a profile picture of yourself that you can use in your About section. You can also look for other images that represent your brand. (For example, if you run a gardening website, snap some pictures of your most beautiful flowers and veggies.)
You can also source images from free stock photo sites like Unsplash and Pexels . These images are typically free to use without attribution, meaning you don’t need to give credit to the photographer unless you want to.
If you sell products, each item should have a cover image that explains what it is. You can use your own photos, create graphic assets using tools like Canva, or find stock photos that illustrate what the customer is getting.
For example, creator Em Connors uses Canva to create custom cover images that go with each of her products.
Note: You can’t just pull images off Google Image results to use on your website. This could be copyright infringement, so stick to sources where you get a license to use the image however you want.
For my website, I’ll use a combination of my own images, Unsplash images, and graphics made in Canva.
If you’re using Podia, there’s an Unsplash integration built in so you don’t have to download images to your computer and re-upload them. I’ll show you how that works in Chapter 4.
To keep everything organized, I made a new folder on my computer and added my branding elements, website copy, and images.
Up next, we’ll take all your prep work and turn it into a fabulous website in less time than you think.