There is something I call the 'website trap. A lot of successful coaches started without a website or with a very mediocre one. So, maybe you don't need it to get started and at the same time a website is very useful to have and a very good way to show YOU as a coach.
It can just become a trap in which you spend an endless amount of time re-doing your website over and over and over, while nobody is actually seeing it and you are not spending time actually connecting with people. (Been there done that..!) Especially when you do not have 100% clarity yet it can become a never ending quest. It was time to ask the expert so I had a chat with Lera Nicoletti. She helps entrepeneurs build beautiful (I must say) tailored websites. Her clients are often coaches so she gets the needs and struggles that come with launching that first website.
What are the biggest challenges coaches come to you with apart from I want a website?
It starts with ‘I want a website’ but the problem that comes up is the problem is that they can not define their niche and what makes them stand out from other coaches. It is important to differentiate yourself.
It can be either knowing your target group really well, or, if you do not know your target group yet, start by asking yourself: why am I doing it? What are my values?What gets me out of bed in the morning and makes me want to put my coaching hat on? How exactly do I serve my clients and what do I bring to the world? It can be anything from helping moms get back to work to teaching creatives how to prioritize and get better structure in their life. Get clear on that and make it clear on your website, too. Then people will remember you and you will attract the right ones, too.
What if you have very different audiences?
You need to make sure it's clear who you are working for and what you offer them – or else you end up with a confused user. If your target groups or services you offer are very different it sometimes makes more sense to have two separate websites, one for each. If target groups and their needs are different, but your offer still fits both, it could make sense to create a homepage with the overview of all services, and then a separate subpage to reflect each service individually. Make sure you always keep your audience in mind and think about what they will benefit from seeing on a page.
What should a website of a coach at least have?
Create an emphatic image and a nice experience. Make people feel welcome and at ease, find a way to instantly connect with them. What helps with that:
Design. Keep your target group in mind. What kind of colours and typography will speak to them? For instance, a mom looking for a coach will like a colour scheme that is very different from the kind of colours a corporate executive would like.
A video, you can make a professional enough one with your phone camera. Before you make the video it is smart to make a little script/ a structure of your message.
Good testimonials: experiences of your past clients can convince your future clients that you are amazing at what you do. Remember: they do not know you yet, so you need to make sure someone else tells them how great you are – that's what testimonials are for.
Who are you and what is your Reason Why?
Explain the offer and the results to expect, and provide some information on your process and how you work. Keep in mind that some of your future clients might never had a coaching experience before, so make it clear for them what to expect. They will appreciate it.
An FAQ can help a lot: think about the questions people tend to have.This will save the time, both for you and for them, too. And saving time makes for good user experience.
Contact or direct Booking option: You can use something like Youcanbookme or a similar platform. By offering a way to book, say, a first session, you save yourself a ton of time (imagine the back and forth via email to find a good time for both of you. Ouch!)
Note: also, here I would say they should make the first step clear. Is it a free intro session? A paid one? An email request? Make it clear and then make it easy to book/ request / etc
If you want to start simple: Can you do that all in a one-pager website?
Yes, absolutely. In some cases, for instance when you have different target groups you will need separate pages. But otherwise, in 90% of the cases a 1 page website is good. It is smart to keep it simple since you do not want to overwhelm your client.
Do you have tips for little tweaks that can make your website stand out
Use personal Illustrations and visuals, no stock images, use your own photos wherever possible even if they are less perfect/professional. Everyone is getting tired of stock images, and authenticity is much more valuable and charming. Of course, make sure the pictures do have at least a halfway decent quality.
(Quick tip: you might be able to find a photographer to do a service exchange with you)
Often people ask about what kind of pictures of themselves to use. First of all: the picture is the last stage on your website. First do your text and design and then you know what kind of picture you need.
Have your message and tone of voice clear and personnel.
Do not try to make it perfect, go for authenticity.
If you do not have the budget to hire someone to design your website, what to do?
First figure out your message, your why and what makes you 'you' and ask someone to help you get clear on that. Talking to a friend, another coach or a trusted client can help to get more clarity. It's always helpful to have an outside perspective.
Before you start building your website always draft out your structure. Write down all you want to have on the site on separate cards, then arrange them in order of how they will appear to your site visitor. Think of it this way: you are drafting a map to help them on their journey through your website. Make it clear for yourself first, write it down, then get to building.
Starting a site without a plan will cost you a lot of time and frustration, and will most likely end up in a bad user experience.
Ask clients : what would they like to see on a website while looking for a coach? The Prices? Process? What would help them make a choice?
You can try to spice up the website with illustrations or unique icons. Here , again, you might either ask a creative friend or exchange a service with an illustrator, if your budget is limited. Coaches are in a very privileged position in that regard: most people would be interested to swap skills for coaching
And on the technical sit: how to build it? To build your own website you can use website builders like Wix/Squarespace/WordPress. Wix or Squarespace are recommended if you have no technical experience at all and Wordpress in combination with one of the available premium website builders (Divi, Elementor) if you are a bit more tech-savvy.
You need to register your domain. Where do you recommend to do that?
I personally prefer working with www.one.com – they are very affordable, have good quality hosting and an amazing service (which can be relevant for those who are new to that who are new to that whole hosting thing).
Not recommended to use GoDaddy. If you google ‘where to host’ they will pop up first, but they seem cheap and turn out to be very expensive because they make you buy a lot of add ons.
If you can not hire a branding expert yet, that helps you with your colours and fonts and all these things, what do you recommend?
To get more clarity of what your clients like and understand their aesthetics better set up a Pinterest mood board for 2-3 imaginary clients. Fill it with things they will like. How would their flat look like? What would they put on their walls? It would help you really get in your clients head and figure out the aesthetic direction for your site. Do not only focus on your own style, tune into your client to understand what they would like to see.
Be consistent: have around 3 colours and 2 fonts you use everywhere, on your website on social media etc. Google fonts will also offer you some ideas for font pairings, so you can see which combinations work best. Go with something that is easy to read on- screen - this will add to a better user experience.
If you have no special graphic programs (those can be expensive) use Canva – an easy and free to use design tool for non designers – to make a mock-up and show it to a trusted client or a friend, to make sure it appeals to them. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback.
Last but not least: break down your process into easy steps (structure, colours, design, content - etc) and try to get feedback from a friend of a trusted client after you have completed each step, to make sure you are on the right path. This process can be overwhelming, so breaking it down into actionable steps and asking for a quick reality check after each of them will make it go much easier for you.
What about Google Analytics/ SEO: do we need that?
You don’t need it from the start. The goal of your website is not to be found through google. You would need to spend a lot of time and money if you want to show up on the first page in a google search! Don’t worry about it yet. If you really want to use SEO you need an expert to help with that. It is ongoing work.The same goes for analytics: you can wait with it.
First focus on getting your website online.
Some example websites (of coaches) recommended by Lera:
https://nuanua.com/ - this one was made really special with bespoke illustrations. As you can see, the client and I understood the target group 100% – the moms-to-be who need more security and calm – and made sure the colors are soothing and the overall appearance of the site is comforting.
https://future-potential.de/ - this one was done for a coach who works with companies, helping them with re-structuring and management topics. As you can see, the colors are much stronger, it creates a very confident appearance to reflect a man who knows what he is talking about. Exactly a kind of security companies would be looking for. The strong colors were made a little less dominant with bespoke but very simple illustrations that reflect his process is a semi-abstract and playful way.
https://www.leranicoletti.com/_case-study-talknow/ - here in my portfolio I have an example of a re-design of a big coaching platform. You can see the before and after; you will instantly notice how much the right colors and a good structure change the overall experience of the website.
https://getremote.de/ - this one was done for a coach who teaches companies how to set up remote work with their employees. Here it was important to create a highly professional appearance, but still reflect a very friendly and easy-going personality that Teresa has – the way she communicates with people is one of her USPs. The website in on a minimalist side, but the softness and playfulness was added to it with simple illustrations (there was no budget for the illustrator at that point, so I took stock illustrations and changed as a base and changed them quite a bit to add originality). Also, the colours are mild and welcoming, but still very professional, with the leading accent green adding the strong confident note.
“Hi there, I’m Lera. My parents made sure I ate lots of vegetables and read lots of books. So here I am, forever hungry and always curious. In a nutshell: I create beautiful branded websites for solopreneurs and small companies. Have an amazing idea that needs to happen? I will help you identify and communicate your message to turn it into an unforgettable brand with a strong digital presence. No cookie-cutter templates, no half-baked thoughts. Only on-point branding mixed with functional aesthetics.”
My website: https://www.leranicoletti.com/