Hi, I’m Toby. I live in Minneapolis, MN where I do my best to bring joy to my wife, 3 kids, 5 cats, and a robot vacuum. I’ve also run The Mighty Mo! for over 15 years – we help people build and maintain websites. There are many ways to make money in web design, and I’ve tried lots of ’em over the years. But the thing I’ve enjoyed most is helping business owners make better, sounder investments in their business. There isn’t a 1-size-fits-all approach, but it can be summed up in 2 high-level strategies:
- Simpler is better.
- Invest in tech that supports your strengths.
Simpler is better. Invest in tech that supports your strengths.
Simple is what you know. Maybe you know Twitter. Maybe you know e-commerce. Maybe you know accounting. Maybe you are an expert marketer. Whatever it is that you know – start there. Start from your place of strength and build upon that. Don’t start with a question like, “I think I should be doing more with Facebook – can you help?” The reason for that is you’ll piss away a lot of money and time and after it’s all spent, you’ll go back to what you know, anyway. I’ve done this countless times myself, dabbling in Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and building internal project management software. I’ve even sold coaching services and CTO services! And while I could point to some successes with all that stuff, at the end of the day, I always come back to my home: WordPress support. Heck, I’m still selling WordPress design even though it always feels a bit outside of my wheelhouse. What I really like doing and what my entire business operation is set up to support is:
- Fixing broken WordPress things.
- Keeping WordPress sites secure.
- Speeding up WordPress sites.
Anything that falls outside of those 3 things always seems like a detour, even if it’s something I can do well. It’s a feeling that my work is not aligning with my soul.
The Self-Destructive Pattern Business Owners Fall Into
I see business owners repeating the same self-destructive pattern over and over again:
- You feel like your website needs to be something different.
- You pay someone to make your website different.
- Your are unhappy with your new website.
- You find someone else to rebuild your website, only better!
- You are unhappy with your new new website.
- You throw up your arms in defeat.
- You decide your website wasn’t that bad to begin with and wonder why you wanted to rebuild it in the first place.
- 12 months later, you feel like your website needs to be something different.
Sound familiar? Lord knows I have repeated this pattern myself countless times in life! And not just with websites but with hobbies (how many times have I reorganized the garage only to discover that what I really need is to get rid of stuff…12 months later I’m reorganizing my garage).
Facts that no marketing agency will tell you:
- Profits are inversely-proportional to the amount of time & money you invest in your website.
I’ve only experienced 1 case in my 15-year career where a large amount of money invested in a website improved business. Trust me when I say this: They are a Unicorn Company, and you are NOT a Unicorn Company.
- Humans close deals; websites don’t.
Your website supports but does not replace other business functions. I’ve talked to many business owners who are convinced that they can offload their business’ sales function to their website. This just isn’t possible. Your website might be where the final transaction takes place, but selling your product is done by human beings doing the hard work of Marketing, SEO, Advertising, & Sales. A solid advertising & SEO strategy using your website’s landing pages can work wonders, but ONLY when coupled with sound sales & fulfillment strategy.
Everything You Need to Know About Building Your Small Business Website:
1. Define the business objective.
As you know, websites are flaky friends and cause more headaches than ice cream. Before investing thousands of dollars and months of your time in anything, answer this question: “Which specific metrics will I use to measure the success of this investment?”
2. Ignore design.
Design doesn’t affect your business right now. Ignore everything that bugs you about your logo, web page layouts, colors, fonts, and images. A fresh, off-the-shelf WordPress template will have enough design to not lose you a single sale (which is really all we can ask of a website at this point).
3. Go cheap.
You can build, design, & launch an entire site, including your custom domain in 30 minutes flat using Google’s website service. If you absolutely must have something more than Google’s service, hire someone locally who can build you a WordPress website in a day. I’ve build hundreds of these sites-in-a-day, and from the business perspective, they compare favorably to sites that cost thousands and require months to build!
4. Go fast.
Launch in a day. Seriously. No excuses. If you can’t get it done in a day, then it’s your fault (own it), and you need to simplify either your website concept or your process.
5. Iterate quickly.
After launching your new site, you’ll get some feedback. Sleep on it a night, and then take the best bits and update content (copy, navigation menus, links) quickly. Say “no” to structural and design changes (see more “Ignore” items below).
6. Don’t do social media or blogging.
Unless you are already doing social media stuff and enjoy it, move on to other things. Doing things that you don’t enjoy and don’t understand will waste time and kill momentum. Most businesses thrive without social media.
7. Ignore SEO.
SEO is not a reliable way to generate sales for you right now.
8. Ignore your ego.
Focus on KPIs, ROIs, goals, sales targets, etc. Your ego sets an effective trap: it over-emphasizes vanity metrics like design, functionality, integrations, and other things that make you feel good in the moment while wasting precious resources. What you need to focus on is sales. (And, by the way, Sales has very little to do with your website right now.)
Ignore the haters.
Realize that as the owner of your business, you have vastly-different concerns than everyone else on your team. Are you clear on your goals? Great! Then ignore the design-related objections of your team. Ignore the eye-rolls from agency professionals & web developers. Ignore the design-related feedback you get from colleagues. They don’t get what you are trying to achieve here. But the biggest hater you must ignore is…yourself. Keep your eyes on the prize and get the job done!
There. So now we just saved you thousands of wasted dollars, hundreds of hours of worthless work, and about 1 million headaches. What will you do with your time? A suggestion: close more deals!
p.s. Design matters greatly in the world. I’ve given lectures about the importance of design to grad students at the U of Minnesota. I generally agree with Donald Norman’s brilliant essay on the design of everyday things. Charlie Miller’s thesis on the design of school tests is truly mind-blowing. Good design is critically-important in our world. It’s just that good design isn’t important for your business right now.
Define the business objective.
I’ve seen many successful businesses that don’t have a website. Despite what you might have heard, you don’t need a website to be successful. Before building a website, figure out why the hell your business needs a (new) a website in the first place. At minimum, answer the question, “How will I measure the success of this website investment?”
WordPress Marketing Fundamentals
- Don’t do marketing; do sales.
- If you don’t know what else to do for marketing, then do Google Ads. See this quick Google Adwords tutorial.
- FREE Beginner WordPress Class By Email
- My real-life sales process (includes real phone & email scripts that you can use!)
- My FREE Ebook: Everything You Need To Know About Building Your Small Business Website
- Free Beginner SEO Course
- How to outsource WordPress Development
Biz Concepts & Further Reading
- The Quickest, Simplest, Funnest Website I’ve Ever Built (i.e. Google’s website builder)
- My real-life sales process (plus phone & email scripts!)
- Tech solutions are the answer to your revenue problems.
- Why I never recommend people redesign their website.
- Books I recommend
Free WordPress Tech Learning
- Organic SEO: Yoast SEO for basic organic SEO tech (Get the premium version if you’re a blogger).
- WordPress Forms, Quizzes, Surveys, Etc.: Gravity Forms for anything form-related. I use it for my contact form, Website Cost Calculator, and for my payment pages. Add the Zapier add-on to connect to everything! BONUS: Set up your Gravity Form to send to your cell phone via sms!
- Credit Card Processing: Stripe.com + Gravity Forms/WooCommerce.
- Cloning Landing Pages: Duplicate Post for cloning your home page to a new landing page.
- Quick Landing Page Builder: Divi for quickly designing beautiful landing pages.
- Email Pop-ups & Opt-ins: Bloom for email popups. Someone in the group mentioned copy-and-paste Mailchimp embeds, which work great, too.
- Website Calendars: The Events Calendar Pro was mentioned as buggy/bulky, and that’s been my experience with it, too. I recommend Calendly.com for 1-on-1’s and Eventbrite for everything else (the are both cloud-based apps that you can embed in your emails and website).
- WordPress Backups: Jetpack Backups for cloud website backups, and Backup Buddy for local/amazon/etc. backups.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Contactually (They market it to realtors…they should market it to small business owners, because it’s the perfect mix of simple + functionality!)
- A book club for growing small business owners, freelancers, & founders. (FREE!)
- Minneapolis St. Paul WordPress User Group
- Women Who WP
- WordPress Help Session
Where to Hire WordPress Pros
- Local: mnwp.directory ($$$)
- Remote: Upwork.com ($$ for custom dev) and Fiverr.com ($ for templated and random stuff).
- How to outsource WordPress development.
- Everything You Need To Know About Building Your Small Business Website (ebook)
Is WordPress Too Much Overhead For You Right Now?
- Check out the Simplest, Funnest, Quickest Website You Can Build
- Wix.com: The quickest, lowest-cost way to build a fancy-ish website.
- I use Stripe.com for all my payment processing.
- I use Gravity Forms for ALL of themightymo.com’s product purchases.
- If you need something more complex, use either WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads.
Contact me if I missed anything!
(Thanks to Ben Wilson for helping compile these notes from my talk!)
Slow Website Costing Leads
Is Your WordPress Configuration Losing You Leads?
“We’ve done all the basic SEO stuff and even wrote some articles, but our leads haven’t increased.” – actual lunch conversation with a potential user of our products.
What if you are doing everything right, but you are still not seeing SEO results?
Google might be penalizing you due to a faulty WordPress configuration.
With all sorts of moving parts on the content-creation side of your website, wouldn’t it be nice to know you’ve got someone to understand and look after after the tech side of your SEO as well?
Tech things like html markup, pushing the right content to Facebook, and making sure the search giants properly-understand your website are all things we know inside and out.
Don’t Let Your Slow Site Cost You Valuable Sales
Google ranks your website on many factors – both content and technology.
A speedy, mobile-friendly site will rank higher than a slower website, all things being equal.
To achieve your fastest website possible, you need to connect all sorts of dots behind-the-scenes.
There’s no one-size-fits-all, and it takes trial and error to get it right.
Save Yourself From Embarrassment. Never again get blamed for website delays that aren’t your fault.
“We hired a company to design, build, & launch our WordPress website, and now they are months behind!” – actual quote from a friend, over coffee, who hired a big marketing agency in town.
“I don’t know the status of the homepage fix I requested, and now my boss is getting pissed at me! It’s not even my fault!” – actual email I received from a relative who hired a different local agency to fix a bug in their website.
Web design companies are notorious for missing deadlines.
How many times have you been in a position where you need to tell your boss or customer, “I have no idea when the website will launch”?
Don’t fall into the web launch trap: Avoid the uncertainty of website launches FOREVER!
Our WordPress Website Design, Refresh, & Launch Proven Process ensures your website launches on-time with all the features you need.
We’ve never been late with a launch.
How do we do it?
As you know, traditional marketing agencies will pitch you long, complicated, convoluted, byzantine processes for everything and charge you a premium for it!
They deliver it late, and it’s never what you expected. What a waste!
We cut the fluff and give you what you need, when you need it.
Our Proven Process ensures you are always in the know and involved at critical junctures in the redesign & launch process.
You’ll always be able to tell your boss, “Here’s where things are at… Here’s when we’ll be done…”
Avoid the headache-inducing craziness of those complex website designs & launches forEVER.
Never be left wondering, “What are we even paying for, anyway?”
With our Proven Process, we’ll ensure your website redesign launches on time and on-budget.
Never Be Embarrassed beccause Your WordPress Team Missed the Deadline (Again)
“I’m going to miss my deadline because my stupid web team never answers the phone!” – actual quote from a friend over beers.
How amazing will you feel when that ugly bug on your company’s homepage is fixed before anyone notices?
We know that ugly things mysteriously appear on websites – broken slideshows, misaligned text, spelling errors, broken images, etc.
Almost all of our work for you gets completed within 1 business day. Often sooner.
You’ll never have to tell your boss, “It’s getting fixed,” because it’ll be fixed so fast, she won’t even notice it’s broken!
Never Feel Abandoned & Alone in the Digital Wilderness Again!
“My web team is has dropped off the map!” – actual conversation I had with a friend.
“I was stuck with a broken website and nowhere to turn.” – real quote from someone who was looking to become a customer of The Mighty Mo!
When you have to put so much of your trust in others, it’s easy to feel abandoned in the digital world.
I’ve heard time and again that the #1 reason people choose to work with us is because of our availability.
We are there for you when you need us most.
Phone, email, text. We will be there for you when you feel stranded.
You can’t put a price on your safety. And safety is exactly what we are selling.
Feel safe next time your website crashes, because we’ll jump on it.
FACT: 99% of our customers’ website-down emergencies are fixed within 20 minutes.
Feel safe the next time your website has a broken page or feature.
We fix broken WordPress things quickly.
Not only are we experienced, all of our internal business processes are built with calmness in mind.
We build breathing space into our daily schedules so that we can jump on your website emergency when it happens.
So next time your website crashes or you discover your SEO has been hijacked, know that we will jump on the issue and work our butts off until it’s not only fixed, but the cause is discovered and we put a fix in place to avoid it in the future.
Pro-active, calm, future-facing safety.