On beginning this journey, I knew that it would be a challenge. I knew that web design and SEO was more than a set and forget occupation, rather an interactive pursuit of ever moving targets, strategies and timeframes. But I think it is only just starting to sink in exactly how detailed and vast my knowledge and experience needs to be to make myself an expert in the field that I love.
So to help myself think through everything that has been running through my mind, I’ll break down my main learning and focus areas at the moment:
- Web Design
This may seem excessive (though I’m sure many of you can cite dozens more areas that I haven’t mentioned), but I’m a perfectionist, I want to know not only what needs to be done, but how to do it, and more importantly how to do it with flair and passion!
- Project Management
Clearly as a freelance worker of any kind you need to have super human project management skills, and web design is no different. To be able to manage your time effectively, deliver your clients objectives on time and on budget everything needs to be planned, re-planned, tested and re-tested. Just like you can’t decide one day that you’re going to build a house and the next day start installing the fixtures, everything in the web design timeline needs to come in the right order and have the right amount of time to percolate and develop.
- SEO & Social Media Marketing
You can create the best website in the world, with the most amazing graphics and the formula for everlasting youth, but if you don’t market it, no one will ever know. The mere creation of a website is only half (maybe less) of the job, to make it work, bring in visitors and convert those clicks into sales/referrals/enquiries requires even more dedication and an extremely flexible approach. Now I think I’m fairly good at letting go of my ego, evaluating what’s working and what isn’t, and changing my approach based on that. This skill is ESSENTIAL for good SEO and SMM (Social Media Marketing).
It’s great that you know HOW to enter SEO information into your webpages, but unless you know why, who you’re wanting to attract, what action you want them to take once they get onto your site and how you’re going to build the relationship beyond a single click or transaction, then your not marketing, your just on the sidelines hoping that people will miraculously be drawn to your site on the 88th page of Google results. Good luck with that 🙂
- Web Analytics
Not only do you need to create, upload and update websites, but more than that to be successful you need to analyse what you’ve done. You need to test your formats, check your clickthrough rate, your conversion rates and your bounce rates. You need to keep coming up with ideas and inspiration and test them against your other ideas. Always be testing!
- Domain & Database Management
As I’m discovering very quickly, the design of a website is great. But where do you publish it? What domain do you use? Do you have keywords in your domain? Do you have a main domain that is your brand, with other keyword domains that redirect to the same content? How do you keep track of all the domains you acquire? Keep them fresh, keep their content coming, make sure they’re registered loaded and have maximum uptime.
Once you get customers, or subsctibers, where do you track them? How do you store their information? What do you use their information for? What do you disclose? Do you use a mySQL database to keep your customer data in or do you generate an offline portal? Then comes the issue of needing to communicate between your site and the server.
- Personal Branding
- Business Management
- Logistics and order fulfilment
- And on and on and on….
Down the rabbit hole I go, will I stop, I’ll never know