How Do I Get Started With My Brand & Website? [FAQs]

by Yaritsa Arenas | Branding + Design, Creative Business


Are you ready to transform your branding?

For some the answer is a resounding YES! And yet I’ve met with a lot of people who are excited to get going, but don’t know where to begin and end up getting stuck. This can either lead to never getting started, or haphazardly putting something together that doesn’t really represent who they are. But don’t worry, we’re not going to let that happen to you!

Whether you’re launching your first site or revamping an existing brand, it’s sometimes hard to know where to begin. What do you need to think about? What do you need to have ready to ensure things move along smoothly? Are there any additional costs that you need to be aware of?

Today, I wanted to delve a little into some frequently asked questions that I get, especially this time of year when people want to start the new year with a new brand! If you’re ready to get started, let’s dive in!

1 | Why is it critical to define my brand and offer before getting started? Can’t I figure it out along the way?
If you’ve read my latest post, Specializing Is Not About Excluding, It’s About Targeting, you’ll notice that I talk about finding your niche and getting specific as to who you serve and what you offer.

There is a fine line between figuring everything out in advance (which can lead to overthinking and getting stuck), and being flexible to changes along the way. I definitely recommend having a direction in mind to start off. Knowing what you hope to accomplish is important to ensure you know what you need by way of copy, images and a look/feel that speaks to your audience.

For example, while you may know you offer Coaching services, you want to define that further. Are you coaching primarily women or men? Do you focus on business coaching, finances or love and relationships? Each of those variables has a different audience and therefore different language and visual cues. The more you can define who you are and what exactly you offer, the more your clients will resonate with your branding and site copy when they get to it.

If you’re still struggling with finding your niche, download my Defining Your Brand & Business Worksheet. If you still need additional clarity, I offer a Brand & Website Review that we can use as a strategy session to get you started in the right direction.

2 | Do I have to have all my assets ready before starting a branding/website project or can I send them as I put them together?
I personally request all content up-front for two main reasons:

1. Content planning is more intensive than most people realize. You may have an idea of what you want to say in your bio or what your Work With Me page should include, but when you actually sit down and put pen-to-paper, some people get stuck and it takes them much longer than they originally anticipated.

2. Piggybacking off point 1, because you may have underestimated how long it would take to gather everything, there is a big chance that content will then be delayed in getting to me, which will inevitably cause our project development to be delayed. Now, you might not care about that if you don’t have a hard launch date, but consider that I, as a designer, have set aside a definded time for our work together and if you are delayed, not only will it interfere with my workflow with other clients, but it may cause your project to be put on hold until my next available opening.

My Stress-Free Launch Website Planning Guide can help you get a better sense of what you need to start gathering by way of content.

3 | Do I need to provide my own photos and images or is that part of the design offering?
Typically unique images are preferred over using stock images because that ensures no one else is using those same images on their site. At the very least, you’ll want to include professional, high-quality headshots.

If you need/wish to include stock imagery on your site, that is typically at your expense (unless otherwise stated on your project agreement). There are several inexpensive (even free) stock image sites, which I’ll soon add to my Creative Resource Library. I would recommend discussing what images you have available at the time of project briefing so we can either account for this cost in the estimate or we can come up with a strategy for image purchase.

4 | What about site copy? Is the writing included in a branding project?
Generally copywriting is not included in a design project scope. This is part of the content that needs to be provided by you as part of your website assets. I can recommend someone to work with if you’re not comfortable writing your site copy yourself.

5 | WordPress, SquareSpace, Wix, Thesis, Divi… What is the best platform for my site?
I can’t really say there is a “best” platform. The most important thing is that you’re able to make the edits that you need to on your site and that it has room for expansion as your business grows. I recommend WordPress or SquareSpace for different reasons. Whichever platform you’re considering, take it for a test drive. Most platforms offer a free trial. For additional detail on this, see my blog post, What Website Platform Is Best For You?, or I’m happy to chat about your specific project when the time comes.

6 | What does it cost and how long does it take?
This is probably the question I get most. My main goal is to provide you with a quality product that speaks to your target audience and you’re excited about. Therefore, I aim to work with timing and budgets that realistically allow me to deliver that. How soon we start depends on a few things:

I have created design packages based on my most requested design needs, along with details of what exactly is offered, a listing of up-to-date pricing and estimated timing.

Note that my rates are going up in 2017, so if you’re interested in locking in 2016, let’s talk!

7 | Are there any additional costs associated with having my website?
There are two main costs associated with owning a website: Domain & Hosting.

Domain: Your domain is your web address (ex: http://yaritsaarenas.com). Domain names typically run from $6-15* per year. This is a recurring fee that you would need to renew as long as you wish to keep your website running. I typically recommend GoDaddy.

Hosting: Your hosting is where your website is located. Think of it as your website’s home, where all the files are stored. For WordPress sites, you’ll need separate hosting, and this costs from $75 -190* per year for shared hosting. Private and Semi-Private hosting are also an option at additional cost, but usually those are only needed if you have very high traffic. Squarespace is it’s own hosting platform and that price ranges from roughly $140 – 200* per year. If you’re still undecided between WP and SS, see my blog post, What Website Platform Is Best For You?

*Prices listed above are as of the time of this writing and vary based on service provider and the specific plan and payment options you select. I always help my clients select the right plan for them, so that can always be discussed during our strategy session.

Hope you found this helpful!

These are just some of the questions I get asked most often before someone decides to move forward with their new branding or website. I’ll also be writing a post with some additional considerations that people often forget to think about, but I find are very useful when you’re planning your branding project.

I’ve also put together some handy resources with essential checklists of information to consider as you work with your designer on your new website. Those are all available on my Creative Resource Library (free of charge).

If there are any questions you still have that I may have forgotten to address, please note it in the comments and I’m happy to answer them.

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