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How to Create a Simple Consulting Website with Jared Gold (Part 1 of 2)

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If you don’t have a great website, you’re at an immediate disadvantage in marketing yourself to new clients. What makes a great website? My guest Jared Gold of Website By Tonight has the answer.

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How to Create a Simple Consulting Website with Jared Gold (Part 1 of 2):

Full Transcript

Liston Witherill:
Welcome to Modern Sales, a podcast for entrepreneurs, business owners, and salespeople looking to have more and better conversations with their perfect clients. You’ll get a healthy scoop of psychology, behavioral economics, and sales studies to help you create win-win relationships. I’m your host, Liston Witherill, and I’m pleased to welcome you to Modern Sales.

Liston Witherill:
If you haven’t done it yet, I’d love it if you subscribed to this podcast. This episode is an interview with Jared Gold. I’m going to get to him in a second, but there’s a two parter here. So, go ahead and hit subscribe, if you haven’t already, so you don’t miss episode two coming out tomorrow with Jared. Now, without further ado, I’m inviting Jared Gold on the show. Jared, how are you today?

Jared Gold:
I’m doing great. Thanks so much for having me.

Liston Witherill:
Excellent. Now, Jared, I could talk about what you do, but I was wondering, can you just introduce yourself briefly, tell people what it is that you do, and who you work with?

Jared Gold:
I run a business called Website By Tonight. And so, my primary clients are solo entrepreneurs, independent consultants, solo practitioners, experts in their own arena. And what we do is, really for lack of a better term, it’s called a productized service. So it’s essentially, the clients will fill out a project brief and follow the content doc, and then they will hop on a screen share with our design team. They will create a website in real time, over a screen share, our designers will create it, while our clients give feedback, and can build and launch your site in a matter of around three to four hours total, live on your domain.

Jared Gold:
It’s a very different approach than a traditional website, going back and forth via email, a long drawn out expensive process, et cetera. So it’s for people like the solo entrepreneurs and independent consultants who just need something less simple and attractive brochure website to boost professionalism without all the extra costs, and time, and bells, and whistles, and things like that.

Liston Witherill:
And so, I want to get into the specifics of how you do that. I’m wondering, how did you settle on this? Why was this such a good idea for solo and independent consultants? And I’m guessing some freelancers too who maybe want to level up their game. How did you settle on this as like, “Hey, I’m going to productize this.” Because I’m guessing, you weren’t a toddler. And when people asked you, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” You didn’t say this, but you found something in the market that made this a really, really good idea. What was that?

Jared Gold:
I developed it by accident after a friend or two would ask me, “Hey, can you help me with my website?” And so, I’m actually a Squarespace expert. So they feature me as an expert on their site. And so, for a few years, at this point, I have been doing more customized Squarespace sites. And they were more involved in they’re more for established businesses or nonprofits, or whatever. But I would get a bunch of these smaller leads, these independent consultants, solo entrepreneurs, what have you, and I would turn them away or I wasn’t excited to do them, whatever.

Jared Gold:
And then finally, I just caved when some friends had asked me periodically, and I’m like, “Okay, you know what? Just come over, we’ll do it side by side on a computer.” And it actually turned out pretty well. And I just developed a process periodically of, “Hey, here’s a doc to populate the content with, send me some sites you like and why,” A very basic project brief.

Jared Gold:
And so, as more and more, they started turning out, well, I started actually charging for it, and they started referring me and it just snowballed from there. And I’d realized that I had stumbled upon an important need in the market as there’s more and more independent consultants and self-employed people, they’re going to need websites for professionalism. And it’s not worth spending thousands of dollars on just a very simple brochure website, maybe four to five pages with a contact form that just shows people, “Hey, this person’s credible,” And starts the conversation. So I really stumbled across a valuable need, really by accident, and I’ve realized I like working with these people and I can really help them, and there’s good product market fit. And so, just went from there.

Liston Witherill:
So you’ve mentioned this term, brochure website, a couple of times, you and I talked before recording about debunking some of the myths of what a website is. So maybe a good place to start is, what do you mean when you say a brochure website?

Jared Gold:
I never started using that phrase, and then clients started telling me that phrase, that they’re looking for a brochure website. You’re a sales expert, so obviously, I think one of the things is talking in the language of your clients or your prospects. So I think just like a brochure website, it could be a long one page scroller, or maybe four to six pages, and then contact form and just outlines home. So the basic high level things, the services you do, maybe some testimonials about you, and some context, and then a contact forum, just a way for people to reach out to you.

Jared Gold:
I think people are starting to realize that they don’t need a complex marketing automation type setup and all this crazy software. That’s just so daunting, that’s just way down the road. A lot of the myths people are getting is, “Oh, you need a super big social media following,” “Oh, you need a big email list,” “Oh, you need all these, a really fancy logo,” “Everything needs to look perfect.” You’re going to pull your hair out, and you’re not going to close any deals if you take that approach. You got to just start somewhere.

Jared Gold:
And I think the good step one that really is sufficient for most people, at least for quite a while, is that simple brochure website that just says the overview and who you are, and what you do, and the kinds of people you help, and just starts a conversation, just gets people to fill out your form and get in touch with you, or people to respond to your emails, your calls. So, just a foot in the door to prove that you’re a credible person. I think a lot of the social media stuff is overrated, and SEO is really expensive and is an unsure thing. So I think a lot of people get so worried with like, oh my God, it’s $20,000 in 12 months with three different pros to get something set up, and it’s just not what you need.

Liston Witherill:
Okay. So we could probably have a nice heated argument about the value of social media. I’d love to hear what you have to say about that.

Jared Gold:
Well, I defer to your expertise.

Liston Witherill:
I think I’d be talking more about experience than expertise. But I did want to ask you, you talked a lot about what you don’t need. And so, I want to get to what you do need. I also wanted to reference, dear listener, for you, I recorded an episode on the different uses, six different uses specifically, about it for your consulting website. If you go back to episode 18, you can go check that out. But Jared, in terms of, we know what we don’t need, which is essentially a massive following and to already be famous to your market, is that a decent summary?

Jared Gold:
That is a better summary than what I had. Exactly. You don’t need 50,000 followers to close a deal.

Liston Witherill:
So we don’t need that, but what do we need in order to actually have a website that’s going to be useful? Is there something that I need in place prior? What does that look like?

Jared Gold:
As obvious as it may sound, I think people need to know what their expertise is, and who their ideal prospect is. I think that’s absolute step one. Because if you don’t know exactly the services you offer and the types of people you help, how are you going to create content? So in general, people need a pretty decent idea of those answers, and then be able to just write that.

Jared Gold:
So some basic text content, it doesn’t have to be the ultimate sales conversion copy, any stuff like that to close the deal. You just need to be able to talk about your business. “Hey, I deliver these types of results for these types of clients, with these types of services.” You don’t need a ton of amazing photography. I usually recommend maybe a few professional shots. You don’t necessarily need a logo to get started, a text logo is totally fine. And there are a bunch of website builders that allow you just a simple text logo just to get started.

Jared Gold:
So I would say, really, the things you need are a clear understanding of what you do, and for whom you do it. And ideally the types of results someone can expect, and a business email address, and a professional website, and an actual logo and business card, they can come down the road. You could say for quite a while, as you go to networking events, “Hey, still finalizing my logo,” Or “Still waiting on the printers for my business cards,” Or something, “But check out my website.” That’s just as good, if not better. Because I mean, business card, they’re a little bit outdated. So those are really the key things you need, in my opinion.

Liston Witherill:
Interesting. Okay. And so, it sounds like some people come to you and they’re already stuck on this notion of, “I need a massive following, I need an email list, I need, I need, I need, I need.” Is that right? Is that preventing them from taking action on their website?

Jared Gold:
Sometimes. But I feel like most people come to me because they’ve already realized that they don’t need all those things. But I think a lot of people are stuck in like, “Oh, I have been working on my website for years, but I know I need all these other things.” And so, when I meet those people… But you know what I mean. Just being like, “You know what? You don’t need that at all. Here’s just exactly what you need.”

Jared Gold:
Most people come to me and they know that they need a professional website, but they don’t know what that entails. They know they need a simple website, but then they ask, “Oh, should I have this?” Or “Should I have that?” And then I say, “Hey, you know what? This is just a phase one right now. These types of things are good down the road.” But the website is the initial foundation. So, what good is an email list. If you don’t have a website to host it on, to even have someone fill out the email form, or what good is social media if there’s no call to action links they can go to. I think there’s a lot of misconceptions. I think a lot of people have trouble getting started, because they don’t realize all they need is a business website and a business email. Unfortunately, by the time clients come to me, they’ve realized that, “Hey, you know what? I’ve had enough, I’m ready to just get started.”

Liston Witherill:
And what is it that’s going on in their lives that makes them say, “I’ve had enough?” Is there some particular event or some reason that they’re coming to you in the first place?

Jared Gold:
In some cases, they’ve just quit their job, and they’ve decided to go out on their own. In other cases, they’re just like, “I’ve had this website forever that I disliked. I was never going to change it.” Or “I was maybe thinking about changing it, but it wasn’t a big priority, and then I came across your service, and I see that it’s so much easier and so much more cost-effective and time-effective. I’m willing to give it a shot.” Or it’s just other people have advised them, “Hey, you need a website?” Or “Where’s your website?” And they don’t have one. I don’t know if it’s necessarily a super key event always, but usually, I don’t sell people on needing a website, they know they need one for whatever reason.

Liston Witherill:
I was wondering actually, we didn’t script this part out, but I’ll put you on the spot right now.

Jared Gold:
I’m ready.

Liston Witherill:
I talked about how I just created a podcast about the different uses of your website. I’m curious, would you be willing to share about your website? How do you use your website? What role does it play? How do you get people there? What does it do for you?

Jared Gold:
Unfortunately, I am not a digital marketing expert, so I’m still working… I actually hired a marketer to help me with some consistent lead gen. But I’ll tell you right now how I drive people to my website and also the use for it. So, I actually think the number one use for my website, besides for some credibility, and being like, “Oh, this is a thing, this is a real business,” Is actually lead qualification. And so, for people that are listening that don’t know, lead qualification is just making sure, “Hey, this person is a valid prospect,” And setting those expectations. So if someone needs a super custom enterprise level website, hopefully they don’t fill out the contact form on the website bytonight.com.

Jared Gold:
So hopefully, I’ve done a good job of laying out the copy and setting the expectations of these are the types of people that the services for. And more importantly, this is the people that it’s not for. No one has time to talk to every single possible lead that comes through. Or if you do, it’s not a good use of your time. If someone needs $100,000 eCommerce website, I would only talk to them for the possibility of referring them to someone else.

Jared Gold:
But let’s say you’re an e-commerce consultant, and someone comes to you for advising a in-person grocery store consultant, that’s not a good lead for you, that’s no use. You ideally want to spend time talking to the people that you can best serve. So I think the website copy should be specific enough to where it’s the first round of defense of your time. And then it’ll filter away the people that aren’t a good fit, and then the people that are a good fit, hopefully it interests them enough to fill out a contact form and say, “I think this is interesting. Let’s start a dialogue, get to know each other, share with you my needs, see what you do, see if we’re maybe a good fit to work together.”

Jared Gold:
In regards to driving people to my website, I have a lot of marketing things I need to improve on. I think, besides for referrals and periodically emailing previous clients to ask for referrals, maybe once a quarter, I have a few different referral partners, agencies that send me leads. So that drives either direct intros or driving people to my website. And then, like I told you, I have some other podcasts and webinars, which should hopefully drive people to my website. And then, Squarespace does feature me as an expert on their platform, right on their specialist section on their website, which is pretty cool. So that is another way that I get traffic to my website. I still have a lot of work to do though.

Liston Witherill:
Well, it sounds like you’ve done a lot of work, to begin with, and hopefully I want all listeners to take away from this, that unless you’re an SEO master and you’ve produced a lot of content, and you’re really good at that, the website itself isn’t driving traffic, it’s a place that people can arrive at, get information, understand how to take the next step to engage with you, maybe become qualified, and also a place where people who already know you can refer other people. I think that’s awesome. Thank you so much for sharing, and thanks for humoring me putting you on the spot.

Jared Gold:
I guess I’m a glutton for punishment. I love the on the spot questions.

Liston Witherill:
Well, there might be more, I have to warn you.

Jared Gold:
I’m ready.

Liston Witherill:
My final question for you, Jared, is, are there any solo practitioners, consultants, independent contractors, who just don’t need a website at all?

Jared Gold:
Wow. I don’t think anyone’s ever asked me that. I can’t think of an actual case right now, to be honest with you. I think that really, every person that is a professional that would do this as a primary source of income or a considerable source of income, really does need a website. Because I can’t recall a case where I was impressed by someone, and then they said, “Oh, I don’t have a website, but here’s my email.” I can’t recall a case where my respect for that person when it didn’t go down. Even if that person’s a total pro, the website really is the version 2.0 or the business card for the modern era, and it’s really important to get some contexts.

Jared Gold:
And it’s not like you need an amazing website, but also, if you have a bad website, that’s really doing you a disservice. I’d rather no website, than a website that looks awful. And totally is like, this person is an idiot or he doesn’t have any money to hire a pro. I think that’s a good question. I can’t think of an independent solo practitioner, independent consultant that shouldn’t have a website if they are a true professional.

Liston Witherill:
So, I actually agree with you. And I know I’ve once again, put you on the spot, but I wanted to share an anecdote. I was just in your neck of the woods in Washington, DC, at an event. And I was meeting other people. It wasn’t a marketing event for me, it was a learning workshop. And as I met other people, even though they weren’t my clients, they would still ask, “What’s your website?” Because they wanted to learn more about me, and maybe they’re in a position to refer me business, and that actually came up. People are like, “I think I know a few people who might want to know you, what’s your website?”

Liston Witherill:
And I think, in that moment, if you say, “I don’t have a website,” It goes from this warm glow that you had to, “This person is not serious.” Pardon the French, but they don’t have their shit together, is really the feeling that I think most people will be left with. And so, I totally agree with you in this idea of a brochure. I don’t want to get into a semantic debate here, but a brochure was always a nice to have. Maybe you had a statement of qualifications as a consultant, or a book of your different services and clients you’ve served, but the brochure, the kind of marketing tri-fold thing that you hand people was always a nice to have. And I think that does a website, a disservice, because I think it’s a requirement, really. If you want to be taken seriously, if you want to have the option of growing bigger with much better clients, and you don’t have a great in already somewhere, you need a website.

Liston Witherill:
So, Jared, we’ve covered a lot of ground here. This is going to wrap up episode one. In episode two, Jared is going to come back and talk all about what should actually go into your website. And I’m making this up, what is your minimum viable website as a consultant, as a solo practitioner? Thank you so much for listening. If you haven’t already, hit subscribe, and tune in tomorrow so that you can hear the second interview with Jared, where he’s going to talk to you about what actually needs to go on that website. See you then.

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