Websites, SEO, Google, Mobile Friendly (Responsive), Coding, and then Social Media! If each of those words are enough to make you want to dive back into your studio, put your head down, and just teach… I get it. Coding, web, and tech stuff can be overwhelming. However, stick with me here! If you set yourself up correctly online, the sky is the limit on what your website can do for you. As Michael Brandt from StripedRhino, one of the web developers I interviewed this week, said, “Your website is your 24/7 employee!”
If you have been following my blogs and “Notes 2 Inspire.” you know I am all about rocking what your strengths are. My strengths are teaching and the Pilates Biz, so I reached out to a few different web developers for answers into the world of websites: Michael Brandt and Brad Crowell of StripedRhino and Lesli Lindren of PilatesWebDesign. I am excited to share this interview with you for several reasons. I took a dive into their worlds, let them talk about what they are passionate about, and created this recap to share with each of you!
Why do you need a Pilates website?
I know many teachers who are on FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram, but haven’t “built their website yet,” or they built it a long time ago and promptly left it sit for ages. You have probably heard in different ways that your website is your “calling card.” When I asked today’s interviewees, they had other reasons:
- All your content is in one place;
- You can build and control your brand; and
- Social media platforms cannot take transactions.
- Social media cannot put you at the top of search engines;
- Facebook and other platforms can not explain who you are and what you do;
- Social media needs to be looked at as funnel to your website; and
- You don’t own your social media channels.
Having both social media channels and a website might feel like a lot to keep track of. But, remember, if you hire someone to create your site, they will build your social links into it. Your developers can update your site (possibly extra or ongoing fees) while you update your social.
A course about how to schedule social media marketing from inside your website—coming soon!
Hiring someone to build your Pilates website
There are many platforms out there that can help you create your own website. For many people, this can be an attractive option. They are relatively affordable and easy to do. I have always coached that you need a website. People need to find you online. So, when I came across instructors who had built or were building their own website, I didn’t think anything was wrong with it. When I asked Lesli about DIY websites, she made an excellent point: “If you want your website to be an asset to your studio, then it’s probably best to hand that over to professionals who knows what they are doing. You wouldn’t let a web designer come teach a mat class because they watched a few videos on YouTube about Pilates. So why would you task one of your biggest marketing assets to someone who isn’t properly trained?”
DIY websites are great for just having a website, but if you want the website to work for you, like Michael suggests, then you need to let developers take care of you. DIY websites use cookie-cutter standards, and do not necessarily dive into the nuances of your personal business. You might not be putting yourself at the top of web searches with this type of tool. Brad and Michael explained that these platforms don’t let you customize the “under-the-hood” side of your site. They can make a pretty front end, but underneath they’re very limited. So if you have one of these sites, it might not be working as hard for you as it could be. If you had it built by a professional, such as StripedRhino or PilatesWebDesign, you can put all your website dreams, wishes, and needs out there. They can build you that site while you are doing what you love most: Teaching!
How much does a website cost?
Expect to pay anywhere between $1500 and $5000 for a website. If your jaw just dropped, then take a deep breath and remember: This is your marketing assistant who never ever stops working for you. When you need an adjustment, change, or upgrade, you’ve got your developers there to help. According to StripedRhino, pro developers will put as much as 40+ hours into building even the most basic of sites. How much would you charge for 40 hours of Pilates? Or, think of it another way: How much did your Pilates studio spend on Pilates equipment? (If you don’t know the cost of a reformer, ask, you might be astonished!)
What does your Pilates website need?
Lesli: “Good marketing! I know that might sound funny, but I can’t tell you how many Pilates studio websites don’t let potential clients know what they can do for them. A lot of websites focus on, “Let me tell you about me and my equipment,” instead of “Let me tell you about how I can help you attain your fitness goal!” It’s also important to get people to take action on your website. Clear calls-to-action are huge. If you don’t make it easy for people to contact you, or figure out how to set up that first appointment, you’re losing clients.”
StripedRhino: “We always put Google Analytics on our client’s websites so they can track the visitors to their site, where they came from, what state, city, gender, email, age. You can see tons and tons of demographics. If you are paying (or even thinking of paying) for advertising, these pieces of information are super important.”
Other recommendations for sites include:
- contact info
- social media handles and links
Blogging is important as it updates your site. Every new post tells the search engines how “busy and open” you are. Blogging regularly keeps you up at the top. Also, think of it like an “open for business” sign. When future clients come across your site, a new blog post will show them more about who you are and how engaged you are in your own business.
What’s the deal with SEO?
I honestly need more than a paragraph to explain search engine optimization (SEO) and why it’s important to you. Many books have been written about SEO, and the truth is that even if I could write a book, the algorithms for SEO will have changed before I publish it. But let’s skim the surface so you can get a picture, and then when you chat with StripedRhino, Lesli or another web developer, you’ll have some basic info in your back pocket.
SEO is basically how Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines rank your site and find it when people search for Pilates. Yes, I just used the words “search” and “engine” in the definition. Trust me, you want SEO! You want your site to be found when people type in “Pilates” and “your area.” In fact, you want your studio and/or name to come up multiple times on the first page of that search. “It provides legitimacy,” says Brad from StripedRhino. Michael explains that the algorithms that the search engines use to find you are ever-changing. Another reason you want an awesome developer. They do all the “keywording” on the backend for you and install the analytics we spoke about earlier. It will help you drive more traffic to your site, making your 24/7 employee the best – and maybe even most cost effective – employee you will ever hire!
Final Food for Thought:
After interviewing both teams I am now, more than ever, going to continue to recommend every teacher and studio owner I meet not only have a website, but also have one made to reflect them and their teaching, and include a call-to-action. If you are reading this and already have a website, ask yourself: How old it is? Have you checked out how it looks on your phone or tablet? Last month 84% of my readers came to my site on a mobile device. These days, more and more people are using their phones to search and then contact. “If you are not mobile friendly, Google and other search engines will ‘ding’ you,” says Michael from StripedRhino.
Join me Thursday on my Facebook Page at 11:45am PST. I will be going “LIVE” to tell you a few more things web developers want you to know when having a site built.
If you don’t have a website, please contact StripedRhino and/or Lesli. They both have built Pilates websites for instructors and studio owners. They both have unique insight into the Pilates world as well. If you have a site, go surf it and be your own future client. Can people easily connect with you?
Want an outsider’s perspective? Let me know! I’ll be your outside eyes.