The second Full Business Audit I’m sharing openly here is the one I completed for coach, writer and Feng Shui expert Vicky White. Normally, the detailed reports I create and share with a client after I analyze each and every aspect of her business and website, remain fully confidential.
However, I’m transparently sharing the audit I did for Vicky because it’s a part of the educational Progress Case Studies where I document how an introverted solopreneur can take her business to the next level if she has structure, system and a reliable road map. Many women solopreneurs building a business online face the same challenges. I hope the tips and advice I share here in these open studies will also give you actionable ideas to transform your own solo business.
Vicky is an adventure-loving coach, writer, teacher, photographer, and Feng Shui expert who is originally from New Zealand. After a colorful life and traveling to 45 countries, Vicky now lives on a houseboat on the Fraser River in Vancouver, BC.
In fact, she has been living in Vancouver for the last 14 years, but now she’s aching to pack up and travel again – at least for six months every year. To do that, she needs to make many changes in her business so that it’s more sustainable and profitable.
Vicky doesn’t have a well-defined business model, and she needs one. Just like companies and organizations, heart-centered solopreneurs also need a Business Model. Here is my definition of “business model” with solo business owners in mind.
A business model is a strategic vessel that holds the structure of how your solopreneur business will deliver an authentic value to a precise group of people with specific needs through leveraging your unique skills and strengths, and that, in the process, enables you to make sustainable profits through a healthy mix of diversified offerings.
The essence of what I’m saying is:
Your business model is the precise description of how you intend to create more revenue than your costs in a strategic, stable, sustainable, and scalable manner.
According to Alexander Osterwalder, the co-author of Business Model Generation and Business Model You, a business model incorporates nine elements, which Vicky and I will be working on by taking small steps:
- Customers. A well-defined, specific group of people you serve and sell to. This is what I often refer to as your Perfect People.
- Value proposition. This is how you solve the problems and fulfill the specific needs of your Perfect People.
- Channels. This is how you deliver value to your Perfect People.
- Customer relationships. This is how you maintain and grow your relationship with your Perfect People.
- Revenue streams. Income you earn from different channels through offering value.
- Key resources. Assets you need to create, offer and deliver value to your Perfect People.
- Key activities. Activities and tasks you need to do regularly to create, offer and deliver value.
- Key partnerships. Individuals and companies that provide you with the support, services and resources you need to maintain your key activities (think of outsourcing, web designers, VAs, service providers etc.)
- Cost structure. How much you’ll earn. How profitable your business will be. And whether it will be sustainably profitable.
Here is a blank Business Model Canvas you can download from the Business Model Generation website. It’s the courtesy of the authors of the book Business Model Generation. Download it, take a print-out and work on it to get clear on your own business model.
Here are some questions Vicky should ponder to go narrower and deeper as she’s creating a viable and sustainable Business Model for herself:
- Who are my target customers or clients? For whom am I creating value?
- What customer or client problem or challenge am I solving? What specific need am I fulfilling?
- What value am I creating and delivering to my perfect people? What products and services am I offering to deliver value?
- How am I reaching my perfect people? How am I delivering that value to them? Which of my delivery channels are the most cost-efficient?
- How will I reach, acquire, and keep my customers and clients?
- What types of relationships do I need to maintain? How sustainable are those relationships?
- How will I define and differentiate my offering? In what way will it stand out?
- What are my customer and clients willing to pay for the value I’m offering? How are they paying it?
- What key resources do I need to deliver value and create revenue streams?
- What channel will I use to distribute and deliver value?
- How will I generate revenue as I deliver value to my perfect people?
- What will I exactly do on a continuous basis to generate revenue? What tasks are involved? How frequently?
- Who are my key partners? Whose help do I depend upon? Which of my key resources are provided by my key partners?
- What’s my cost structure? Which key resources are the most expensive?
- What’s my profit margin? Is my business profitable enough? How can it be more profitable?
- How will I keep this process sustainable?
- How will I keep this process scalable?
What should an introvert pay special attention to when devising her business model?
I’m introverted, and I work with introverted women solopreneurs. So the first thing that comes to my mind is the fact that Vicky’s business model must be a good match for her introverted personality. If Vicky pays a special attention to making her business model a good fit for her introverted needs and inclinations, she’ll start seeing the desired results without being overwhelmed.
I think the Value Proposition is the single most important element you need to cultivate full clarity on when starting a business whether online or offline and whether as a start-up or a solopreneur. So just like Bo, the first step Vicky must also take at this point is to get clear on her Value Proposition, which has three components:
- Her Target Audience (Who is Vicky targeting? Who are her Perfect People and what do they specifically need or want in relation with Vicky’s line of work?)
- Her Point of Difference (How will Vicky differentiate herself from her competition in a way that is meaningful? How will she stand out? What is it that she can do for her Perfect People and no one else can?)
- Related Data and Metrics (Why should Vicky’s Perfect People believe Vicky is unique in her industry and why she is worthy of their attention. What steps should Vicky take to prove that?)
“For a mission-driven project to succeed, it should be remarkable in two different ways. First, it must compel people who encounter it to remark about it to others. Second, it must be launched in a venue that supports such remarking.”
Newport reports that, “Be so good they can’t ignore you,” is something Steve Martin said to Charlie Rose during a 2007 interview when asked what his advice was for aspiring entertainers. Then Calport explains that this quote (also the title of his book) was excerpted from the following longer quote from Steve Martin (p. 231):
“Nobody ever takes note of my advice because it’s not the answer they wanted to hear. What they want to hear is “Here’s how you get an agent, here’s how you write a script,’… but I always say, ‘Be so good they can’t ignore you.’”
Vicky has to stand out in the crowded Feng Shui, minimalism, decluttering, and midlife reinvention sectors of the online world of business. But she might have an advantage in some ways. Here’s why…
A part of the research I do for a Full Business Audit is to find out and study the best and the most related “competitors.” My research about Vicky’s competitors brought out that there are only a few high-quality Feng Shui blogs. And most Feng Shui blogs suffice with publishing short and stale articles and don’t have much character, a unique edge or a brand story.
If Vicky raises the bar for creating content for her blog and newsletter in a radical way and starts to publish long, in-depth, story-filled, extremely useful articles and reports, if she does this in a consistent way, and if she puts herself in front of new audiences that might be a good fit for her by doing guest posts, there is no reason why she shouldn’t stand out especially when you consider her knowledge of Feng Shui and the way she teaches it in plain English.
When it comes to the topic of reinventing yourself at midlife and beyond, which is one of the dominant themes of Vicky’s blog and overall work, there are many high quality blogs out there, and some of them are infused with the unique stories of their founders.
At the moment, although Vicky has a solid following, a group of loyal clients, customers, and a list of products, she doesn’t stand out in the crowd and her list isn’t growing fast. When you look at her website, you clearly see that she knows what she’s talking about, recognize her values, strengths and qualities.
However, if Vicky:
- combines her five major themes (midlife reinvention, location independence, traveling, Feng Shui, minimalism) in a way only she can because of the unique blend of her story, skills, strengths, experience, and interests,
- be more vulnerable and tell more of her story (not just refer to things without delving deeper into emotions),
- puts herself in front of bigger and relevant audiences through guest posts,
- creates, publishes and promotes extremely useful blog posts and downloadable resources that turn into linkbaits,
- and do all of this consistently,
she will find her sweet spot in a way that it cannot be “copied” and will stand out much faster than she hopes for.
A very powerful synthesis of her unique elements will place Vicky and her work on a pedestal, enabling her to be more visible than the others in her crowded industry. So she must do what it takes to follow Steve Martin’s and Cal Newport’s advice and be so remarkable so no one in her industry can ignore her.
Here are a few tasks Vicky should consider completing to initiate that kind of a shift (and I’ll be giving her the support she needs in the course of our case study and inside the Progress Lounge, so make sure you sign up for updates to follow the next steps.):
- Do a deep study the best blogs related to the topics of “Feng Shui”, “Decluttering” “Minimalism” “Midlife Reinvention” “Midlife Transition” “Women at Midlife” and also look at related Facebook pages and other forums.
- Analyze what people need and want. Find out what is already available and what is still missing.
- Define what has not yet been done and what could make her work stand out.
- Possibly, combine her strengths, skills, interests, and experience in such a way that doesn’t exist online yet. (I’ll work with her also on that.)
- Create a remarkable Signature Freebie (more explanation below under Products)
- Create a powerful editorial calendar.
- Differentiate her blog posts. I suggest writing long, in depth, extremely useful articles and reports (2000 words at least) at once or twice or a month with relevance to her primary topics. (They must be as valuable as paid premium products.)
- Create multiple, thematic resource hub pages within her blog where she offers the links of those resources/articles in the form of specific resource lists or clusters (themes: Feng Shui, decluttering, life reinvention at midlife and beyond, location independence at midlife and beyond, downsizing at midlife and beyond, etc). Good examples: here and here.
- Tell more of her story including past challenges and emotional aspects with which her Perfect People can identify themselves with.
- Document her upcoming travels through detailed, entertaining posts.
- Build strong relationships with competitors, cohorts and the owners of the blogs where her Perfect people hang out.
Vicky has the potential to double, triple and quadruple the size of her audience and her income if she takes a narrower, deeper angle, emphasizes her unique “sweet spot,” and puts her content in the eyes of multiple other audiences that will value her work.
In the Full Business Audit I had done for artist and writer Bo Mackison, I had talked about finding your “Dearest.” Like Bo, Vicky must also get clearer on her Perfect Person, in other words, her “Dearest.
A common mistake people make when creating their ideal client/customer persona is focusing on the demographics. So, when Vicky and I are working on defining her target audience, we’ll make sure not to focus on factors such as age, gender, or level of income or education when defining her “Dearest” (even though at the back of our minds we know that she writes for and works with women). Instead, we’ll focus on discovering and defining the biggest needs and desires of Vicky’s Perfect People (as they relate to Vicky’s specific line of work).
Once Vicky nails down her Perfect Person Persona and fully understand her “Dearest,” finalizing her Value Proposition will be easy as pie. After that, she and I will work on creating and implementing her Red Velvet Rope Policy (a term coined by the brilliant Michael Port, the author of Book Yourself Solid) so that her website magnetizes only her Perfect People and keeps her wrong people at bay.
Vicky already has many products: e-guides, online courses, two audio courses, and various coaching offers.
My observation is that she rolls out her offers a bit randomly, too frequently and without a strategic launch plan or sequence. This probably causes her to feel overwhelmed, anxious and uncertain at times. She needs to create a Product Ecology after getting clear on her Value Proposition, a subsequent product creation plan and launch guidelines so she knows exactly what to create, when to create, what format to use, when to launch, when to upsell, etc.
What she must always keep in mind as an introvert is to be proactive about preventing overwhelm. I know that she needs and wants space to be and to think. She doesn’t want to be working 40 hours a week. So, she must make sure that her product arcs consist mainly of offerings bringing in ‘passive’ revenue. And less reinventing the wheel and more creating repeatable systems.
To that end, Vicky needs to strategically diversify her offerings and make sure that most of them won’t require her to keep in continuous or long-term interaction with people (even if they are her Perfect People) and that she has enough white space in her day to keep creating quietly on her own.
That means her product ecology must comprise:
- e-books and digital tutorials,
- self-study courses,
- a sustainable membership group (she desires to create one), and,
- short-term coaching packages with well-defined expectations and boundaries.
She already has a viable product called Simplify. Transform. Prosper, a 30-day guided decluttering program she runs live once a year.
Since Vicky wants to rapidly leverage the material she already has to reach her financial goal that will allow her to start traveling again soon, she should consider creating two other different versions of Simplify. Transform. Prosper: an inexpensive self-study e-guide without a community option and a more expensive self-study online course. She might consider selling the former on a platform where she can involve affiliates.
Vicky must revise her subscription offer. At the moment, she has an Aweber sign up box at the top of her sidebar that says: “Receive Words to Live By delivered to your inbox.” This statement is ambiguous. One thinks, what are “Words to Live By.” Is she going to send something or does she mean she’ll send articles? I suggest that Vicky should create a free course or a free guide as a valuable incentive that will be sent to each subscriber.
In other words, she must create her Signature Freebie.
Sorry to say that, but most freebies I see offered on blogs are fluff. They don’t teach in depth how to solve a specific problem by applying a unique method that actually works. Their quality doesn’t often resemble that of a paid product. And they are not 100% relevant to the blog founder’s Value Proposition.
If Vicky creates a Signature Freebie the right way, she’ll stand out in her industry very fast.
As an example, I offer a 12-part mini class called “The 12 Entrepreneurial Laws or Joy and Ease” which I created to solve a very specific problem introverted solopreneurs suffer from: overwhelm. My free mini class is of very high quality, is well-written and offers tangible solutions you can actually put to you use with ease. It’s a valuable resource you’d want to save in a place where you keep useful resources you know you’ll refer to over and over again. I’m not saying this to brag, but because it’s what my subscribers write to me in thank-you emails.
I send a new part every two days after the confirmation of subscription as opposed to sending it all once because:
- I don’t want to overwhelm my subscribers.
- I want to stress my baby steps approach.
- I want to give them space so they can think about each part in peace and find ways they can actually apply my tips in their own business.
- And, I want to have them get used to receiving e-mail messages from me and actually opening them.
When I work with my clients on helping them create their Signature Freebies, I almost always start by telling them the story of The Taming of the Fox, from one of most favorite books, the Little Prince by Saint-Exupéry.
In the chapter where the Fox and the Little Prince encounter each other for the first time, the Fox is afraid of the Little Prince who wants to befriend him. Timidly, he asks the Little Prince to “tame” him first.
Astounded, the Little Prince asks the Fox what “taming” means, and the Fox replies by saying that it is “establishing ties.” Then he adds that only after the the process of “taming” they will come to mean something to each other and will need each other. “Without “taming,” the Fox says, “for me, you’ll be nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I will be to you nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But after you tame me, you and I will become unique for each other.”
What the Fox means in the context of the story is to make friends and to establish a deeper kind of relationship. In the context of creating and offering a Signature Freebie, “taming” means showing your Perfect Person (your “Dearest”) without doubt that you are the one she’s been waiting for all this time.
According to the Fox in the Little Prince, unless you take the time to build a genuine relationship with a person and get to really understand her, that person will remain indistinguishable for you from the hundreds of thousands of people in the world—and you, too, will not be “unique” or special to him or her.
The same is true for you and your Perfect People. You have to take the time to build a deeper kind of relationship, get to know each other and make friends first.
But how does the Little Prince tame the Fox?
On the first day, he sits down on the grass at a little distance from the Fox and says nothing. On the following days, the Little Prince comes to the designated spot always at the same time and sits himself down again. But each day, he sits just a little closer to the Fox, who keeps eyeing him out of the corner of his eye.
Eventually, by the time the Little Prince sits right next to the Fox, they already know each other well, and a warm, genuine friendship has formed. And that friendship is there to stay.
This sounds like a process that requires enormous amounts of time and patience. Well, that’s the whole point of creating your Signature Freebie the right way. Building genuine relationships and deep connections with people is hard work.
So, when Vicky is creating Signature Freebie, she must make sure that it:
- is directly related to the major problem of Vicky’s Perfect People,
- clearly displays Vicky’s Point of Difference,
- is original and extremely useful,
- provides down-to-earth guidance and tips that are concise and easy to implement, and
- is so high quality that someone else would have probably sold it as a paid product.
Vicky’s aim should be to have people say or think, “I can’t believe she’s giving this away for free! If her free offer is this good, I wonder how her paid products are.”
And the tangible results this bonus will help people get must be significant enough to make them want to share it on the social media and recommend it to others wholeheartedly. I call this Relevant Excellence.
Here are five websites and blogs where the Signature Freebie offered fulfills my criteria of Relevant Excellence:
- Copyblogger, Resource Library for Members
- Heart of Business, Sacred Selling E-books
- Think Traffic, Traffic Toolbox
- Psychotactics “Why Do Headlines Fail?” Report
- Productive Flourishing, Productivity Tools and Planners
Sales Channels and Diversification:
After creating a viable product plan that is a good fit for her personality type, Vicky can experiment with different sales channels. She already has a lot material from her old website which she can turn into e-mail courses or programs on a teaching platform such as Ruzuku.
Vicky also has two audio courses. Especially the one about selling your home faster and for more through applying the principles of Feng Shui is a perfect fit for Clickbank. With a well-planned strategy (we’ll devise together) and revised sales copy, she can easily find relevant and powerful affiliates who can promote and sell it.
Clickbank has recently been redesigned and (thank God!) got rid of its sleazy looks. By putting her product on Clickbank, actively finding good affiliates and using targeted Facebook ads, she can turn that ready product into a rather lucrative source of income without having to do too much extra work.
Vicky should also consider Kindle publishing, create rich and practical ebooks by using the material she already has, and experiment with selling them at $0.99, $2.99 and $6.99.
Site Name and Tagline:
This part will probably upset Vicky because it has been only about a year since she has made a transition to her new website. I think the thespaciouslife.com is not the best domain name for her work for many reasons.
One of those reasons is the presence of “the” in the domain name. As Vicky’s blog grows and her influence expands, many people will be looking for her site by typing “spacious life” in their search bars or for a search on Google without using the “the.”
If Vicky also owned the domain spaciouslife DOT com, this wouldn’t have been a problem, because then, she could have used either domain and redirect the unused one to the active website. In that way, anyone looking for Vicky by typing “spaciouslife.com” or “thespaciouslife.com” would find their way to Vicky’s website.
After some simple research, I found out that the domain name spacioulife DOT com was purchased in 2010 by a woman in Minneapolis, Minnesota for a period of three years. She owns her own personal domain name as well but has no website on either domains. She might not be active as a blogger. Spaciouslife DOT com is expiring in about 40 days from now. So Vicky can wait to see if its current owner will renew it or not. And if she doesn’t, Vicky can wait for another 45 to 60 days (legally she has to wait for the duration of the grace period to buy a domain that expires), grab it if she can, and redirect it to her own site. But unfortunately, this is a slim possibility.
One other thing that disturbed me was that there is a big blog that uses the terms “spacious home” “spacious life” and “spacious self” and that its owner is a published author who has had her website since 2000. Although Vicky’s blog ranks very well in Google for the keyword “spacious life,” she won’t be the only one in the Feng Shui and decluttering market who is know for the term “spacious life.”
Vicky used to have another blog called Life Design Strategies before she launched The Spacious Life.
My observation is that the themes in Vicky’s old and new blog are almost overlapping. It is true that her new website and blog are more streamlined and her focus has deepened, but it’s not that she has made a radical switch. If you do not look carefully and study the similarities and differences, you could even wonder why she made the move to another domain that is not a personal domain name.
I felt as if what had shifted for Vicky was more than just a dislike of her previous website in terms of design an/or content.
In her farewell post she published on her old blog, Vicky wrote about shifting her focus from ‘wanting’ to ‘feeling.’ And she also said that although she didn’t know how reinventing herself once again would exactly look like, she knew that it would be about photography, travel, sunshine, living in an RV, buying a tiny home, Ecuador, learning Spanish, going on retreats, writing, being creative, having fun!
The person I perceive in her new blog is wiser and more spiritual. She’s more unapologetic, more “feeling,” and simpler. But even though her work has clearly evolved (regardless of the fact that she’s still in the same niche) and she moved to her new website, she neither shut down her old website nor did she redirect it to her new address on the Web.
I think it is time that Vicky picks up all pieces of her online presence and unites them once and for all under her personal brand.
I observed that Vicky has used her full name “Vicky B. White” in various places on the Internet, and a domain search showed me that she, indeed, owns the domain vickybwhite.com. This was good news to me. What was better was that Vicky had actually purchased it as early as 2009. Was that a sign that she considered using her name even back then?
(Side note: The domain vickywhite.com without the letter ‘b’ is not available.)
Nowadays, the trend in heart-centered online business circles is building your website and platform around your own brand identity and using your name as your domain. I’ve done the same.
The benefits of building your online presence around your personal brand are many:
- It’s the best name for your personal brand, and it makes it easier for you to establish yourself as an authority in your industry especially if you’re a writer, a coach or another solo service provider.
- You have more space to grow (and tweak) as you and your business grows.
- Making conceptual, structural and other changes in terms of business model, content and website are much more easier should you one day need to do so because your name will always be the same, but your interests and focus might change in the years to come.
Eric Deckers has great tip here about how to choose a personal domain name.
If what Vicky desired was to build an authority Feng Shui or minimalism blog, The Spacious Life or another theme-based domain name would have worked. Especially if you build small, quality websites that dive deep into a very specific niche, grow them and then sell them to other people, then using your own personal brand as the domain name would, evidently, is the absolute wrong thing to do.
But as a coach and writer, I think Vicky should seriously consider switching to VickyBWhite.com whenever she can.
The vision I have for Vicky’s business is a hub for women at midlife and beyond who have dreams to fulfill when they have finally have all the time and money they can spend on themselves. And to reinvent themselves and their lives, these spiritual women deeply need what Vicky can offer them not just as a Feng Shui coach but also as a writer, photographer, traveler, and an adventurous tour guide who can take them along not just to her own journeys around the world but to journeys into the heart and the soul – even at midlife and beyond.
And for that she has to claim and own her name and proudly seal her work and Web presence with her wholesome brand as Vicky B. White.
Site Header and Theme:
Vicky’s website has a pleasant header that reminds one of an energizing, spacious life. However, I would enjoy being able to make eye contact with the person behind the blog at one glance. There’s nothing like easily making a human connection with the founder of a blog you love or the writer of an article that moves you. If she wants to keep the header, then Vicky must at least find a way to show her face to her visitors on the sidebar.
Below is the screenshot of a website that has implemented a design concept similar to Vicky’s and that is also built on the Genesis framework from StudioPress. Pay attention to how the founder displays her face at the top of the sidebar above the fold.
Although a call to action does not necessarily work better above the fold on a web page, having the founder’s photo above the fold on a website where the brand is the founder herself is always a good idea.
At the moment, Vicky’s tagline is inspiring but not clear. It does not rapidly tell the visitor what Vicky and her site is exactly about. Since a website owner has but a few seconds to capture the interest of the first time visitor who travels from one site to the other at the speed of light, Vicky needs to craft a more relevant tagline that permeates into her Perfect People even at one glance.
Besides, when you do a Google search for “live love thrive” the results on the first two pages are totally irrelevant. You probably think, why would that matter for a tagline? Let me explain.
This is something I’ve been experimenting with and also something I’ve recommended to some of my clients, who consequently got great results.
The idea is to find a brandable phrase you use a lot in your work and you become identified with. And then get the domain for it and redirect it to your website. For example, if I were Jac McNeil, I would buy “BusinessYouStyle.com” and redirect it to JacMcNeil.com. And if I were Jennifer Louden, I would buy SavorAndServe.com and redirect it to JenniferLouden.com.
The reason is that people in the personal growth and coaching industries identify Jac with the phrase “Business You Style” and people identify Jen with the phrase “Savor and Serve.” Those two phrases have become a part of Jac’s and Jen’s brand identities respectively. So even when someone can’t remember Jac’s name or isn’t sure whether her last name starts with Mc or Mac, she can still easily remember and type “BusinessYouStyle.com” in the search bar and find her way to JacMcNeil. com.
The same is true for Jen. I remember having typed SavorAndServe.com instead of JenniferLouden.com so many times when I wanted to visit Jen’s site and read her latest articles only to realize that SavorAndServe.com didn’t take me to her website.
What I’ve been describing here is called a Verbal Branding Mnemonic. You’re going to be reading more about this from me in the future.
(By the way, the branding mnemonics for Jac and Jen were available as domain names, and I’ve just visited Namecheap and purchased them. Beloved Jac and Jen, I’ll be writing shortly to pass your brand mnemonics over to you as my tiny end-of-summer gifts for you.
The trick for finding a great brand mnemonic is to:
- capture a phrase that’s highly memorable and that totally reflects the essence of your Value Proposition,
- incorporate it into your tagline, and,
- use it over and over again in your copy and posts so that people start identifying it with you.
Also, keep in mind that this works only for websites where the person is the brand and the domain is her name.
For example, because I create for and work with introverted solopreneurs, I crafted a relevant tagline: “In Pursuit of Peaceful Triumphs in Life, Work and Art.” And the feedback I received after relaunching my site proved that my Perfect People resonated A LOT with the concept of “peaceful triumphs,” And I felt it could be a permanent part of my growing brand with its recent narrower and deeper focus. So, I went ahead and purchased the domain name PeacefulTriumphs.com.
My name Cigdem Kobu is difficult to remember and hard to type, so now all I do is when I interact with people who want to find my site again is to tell them to go to PeacefulTriumphs.com. That domain name is even added to my Twitter account. Try it, and you’ll see that it will take you back here to my website.
So I think, if Vicky has her site on VickyBWhite.com, she can still use TheSpaciousLife as a brand mnemonic on the Web. And later if she can purchase the version without the “the” in the front, even better.
Or, she can come up with something that better reflects the essence of her Value Proposition and that contains a phrase she can use in her tagline and as her brand mnemonic. At the moment she can’t use her current tagline “live, love, thrive” as a brand mnemonic because it would lead people to irrelevant places on the web.
When a home page is designed well, the right visitors follow a path that you have determined with your website goals in mind.
Vicky’s home page is spacious, well-written and addresses her Perfect People. But it’s too long and almost sounds like an About page. Perhaps she could use parts of this text when rewriting her About page.
A good thing about her home page is that it doesn’t include any links directing to places outside of her website. And that’s good because she’s not sending the people, who’ve just arrived, away to another website.
However, her home page needs additional elements:
- Her photo,
- A sign up button, link or form, entry ways to her latest blog posts, and maybe,
- Links to her most important pages.
Here are some great Home Pages:
- Cynthia Morris http://www.originalimpulse.com/
- Chris Garrett http://www.chrisg.com/
- Tea Silvestre http://thewordchef.com/
- Think Traffic http://thinktraffic.net/
- Pam Slim http://www.escapefromcubiclenation.com/
- Debbie Reber http://www.debbiereber.com/
- Jac McNeil http://www.jacmcneil.com/
- Psychotactics http://psychotactics.com/index.php
They all offer a very clear and rich entry point to the website. Although some of them have too many calls to action than needed, overall, they focus on the visitor, quickly make it clear for what type of person the site is for, a unique taste of the owner’s background, convictions and points of authority, links to resource hubs within the site, and an incentive to respond to the call of action.
The About page is that most important page of a website. If the visitor has entered the site from another point, the About page is often the second page the interested visitor clicks and goes to.
Vicky’s About page is well written, has a photo and gives ample information about who she is. However, it does not fulfill its most important function: clearly pronounce the burning needs and desires of her Perfect People and have hem identify themselves with Vicky.
The About page of a website is not really about the website owner. It’s about the target audience. It’s not about you. It’s always about your Perfect People, whom you want to help, serve and transform through the work you share on your website and blog.
So, at the end of the work we’ll do together about her Value Proposition, Vicky should rewrite her About page and test how effective it is. And then tweak and test again until its “ripest” version evolves.
Here are some great About pages. They’re all very different from each other but have one thing in common: They are highly effective, unique and full of character.
- Hiro Boga http://hiroboga.com/about/
- Cynthia Morris http://www.originalimpulse.com/about/
- Amy Harrison http://harrisonamy.com/about/
- Ashley Ambirge http://www.themiddlefingerproject.org/about/
- Chris Garrett http://www.chrisg.com/about/
- Bob Dunn http://www.bobwp.com/about-bob/
- Think Traffic http://thinktraffic.net/about
- Jen Louden http://jenniferlouden.com/about-2/
- Melissa Dinwiddie http://melissadinwiddie.com/about-contact/
- Caleb Wojcik http://www.calebwojcik.com/about-pocket-changed/
- Sarah Selecky http://www.sarahselecky.com/about/
- Joel Friedlander http://www.thebookdesigner.com/about/
- Tara Gentile http://www.taragentile.com/about-2/
Vicky uses clear title tabs in her upper navigation bar. I have two recommendations to add more functionality to her navigation:
- Place the navigation bar above the header so that it’s not too close to the point where her page content begins. Because her navigation bar does not have a colored background, keeping it above the header will be good.
- Get rid of either Services or Work With Me tabs. I would keep Work With Me and offer the Bagua Map service on that page.
Sidebar and Blog Page:
The sidebar of Vicky’s website is simple and spacious. And it’s good to have a few testimonials there. My only suggestions are:
- Shorten the testimonials and keep only the juiciest parts.
- Revise the subscription form as suggested below in the E-mail List section of this audit.
- Create images for the resource pages within her site, place them on the sidebar and and link them to the related thematic resource page.
As seen in the screen shot below, Vicky’s Google+ profile hasn’t been connected to her blog content, and her photo doesn’t show up next to her pages and posts found in the search results.
She needs to link her Google+ profile to her content on the Web, so she is able to increase her online visibility and establish her online authority. Google Author Rank has the power to give her content a huge lift in Google’s search engine rankings. Here are a few useful articles that teach you how to do it:
- Google Authorship Markup: How to get your picture in search results. by Andy Krestodina
- Google: How to get your photo to show up in Google search results by Jim Connolly
- How I Got Google to Display My Profile in Search Results by Brian Gardner, and,
- Adding Google Authorship To Your WordPress Site by Jennifer Bourn
Vicky has been successfully using Aweber, which is also one of my favorite tools, although or Mailchimp is also a quality list building and email marketing tool many prefer. By looking at the frequency of Vicky’s offers sent to her list, I wonder whether she might have exhausted her list. If she has, then she has to consider doing these two things:
- Send insanely useful resources, reports or articles to her list for free for a while. The Signature Freebie she will be creating can be one of those resources.
- Expand her list through guest posts and regularly add new people who are ready and willing to discover her unique offerings. After a while she can create a subscriber segment based on the subscription date, include only those people who subscribed after a specific date, and send new sales messages to that segment only so that the people who have been on her list before that date and who have previously received some of her latest sales messages don’t receive them again for a while.
Vicky should also work on the subscription box on her sidebar and better articulate her offer so that new visitors will be able to know in the first few seconds what they will exactly receive after they sign up.
Calls to Action:
Each page on a website must have a single specific call to action. This is not always 100% possible, but it’s a good practice to try to make that happen. Vicky has to decide what her ultimate goal for her visitors on each and every page of her website is. Is it to sign up, apply for a coaching session, or buy a product? She should also consider adding a sign up box, link or button to her home page, her About page and at the end of each post.
Connections and Platform:
Vicky has an official Facebook page, but she doesn’t use it yet. She says that Facebook is the only social medium that doesn’t drain her introverted self. In fact, she likes interacting with her Perfect People on Facebook. So she should start using her official Facebook page consistently even if she posts once a day.
We introverts do not have to be everywhere. Striving to have a strong presence everywhere may drain us. So it’s better to choose our battles! Building powerful relationships with fans, clients, colleagues, mentors, and the key people in your industry grows your platform magically.
Vicky builds few and deep relationships like most introverts. So she can perhaps choose ONE person online every month (someone whose work, values and style she genuinely admires and someone who has a slightly bigger business than hers) and get to know her better, connect with her and promote her good work wholeheartedly. One deep relationship a month means 12 close cohorts a year.
Action Steps and Conclusion
The Full Business Audit I do for clients always remain confidential, but I share some of them as case studies that will be useful for my audience – with the permission of the people whose bsuinesses I’m auding, of course. Also, I always add a detailed list of action steps categorized in a way that makes sense and that can be used as a road map. For this Full Business Audit, however, I won’t be listing the action steps here because this has already become a giant post of more than 7000 words!
But Vicky and I will be sharing and following a step-by-step road map as we make progress.
All of the above may look daunting or overwhelming at first glance. However, don’t forget that Vicky will not be completing all action steps at once. We already have a road map and a curriculum of weekly topics, and what we’ll be doing is taking baby steps as consistently as possible every week and make a peaceful kind of progress toward our goal of taking Vicky’s business to a totally new level by the end of this year.
If you don’t want to miss any of the episodes of the Vicky White Progress Case Study, make sure you sign up for updates. When you sign up, you’ll also receive my free 12-part course called The 12 Entrepreneurial Laws of Joy and Ease, which I wrote specially with introverted solopreneurs in mind.Disclaimer: Some of the links of service providers and courses mentioned in this post are affiliate links. That means, I earn a small commission for referrals when someone makes a purchase through my link. I become an affiliate of and promote only the products and services I personally use, love and wholeheartedly recommend.