The process of starting a website can be overwhelming with all of the choices for hosting and designers that are out there today. It can leave you stuck and not moving forward.
If this is the case, I would recommend that you begin with a free blog at www.wordpress.com. The reason why I recommend WordPress is that it is easy to use and of course free to start with. WordPress will give you the best chance of getting your website found and will let you practice setting up your website. Even though it is blogging software you can use it for a website. Their latest version that just came out a few weeks ago makes it much easier than ever. It works like a wordprocesser in some ways.
To begin with go to www.wordpress.com and set up your first blog. It is important to name it with your specific keywords which will be some version of massage your city so the blog name will look like this:
http://massageseattle.wordpress.com/ (not a real site!)
Click on the orange button on the top left that says sign up now!
When it takes you to the sign up form and asks you for the user name put in your keywords and see if it is available. The username is used to name the blog.
Once you get signed up you will have a fully installed blog ready to go.
The first thing I do is head to the settings tab on the left and set up your time zone and the title for your site. It will show up at the top header.
Then go and create your first page by clicking on the page tab – add new. Create a page with a compelling introduction and headline. This will be set up to be your static page that will show all of the time. You can just set it up to begin with and play with what you want to be saying on it later.
Then go to the tab that says reading under the setting section and you can choose to have a static front page – that is one that stays there all the time rather than just posting your latest posts or pages. Choose the page that you just created.
You can choose what template you like in the appearance tab. There are many free templates to choose from. I like the new template they have called Twenty Ten that is created by the wordpress team. It will allow you to easily create a custom header with your own picture.
The pages will be the things that show up across the top of your page for navigation. Start with creating about 3-5 pages on some of these topics:
- Your massage services and fees for services
- Your location and contact info
- A page for a specialty you have like pregnancy massage or deep tissue massage or something that you want to create a niche or specialty in
- You can list other therapists like I have if you have them
- Create a page about you – what training you have, why did you become a massage therapist, what is your philosophy on healing
- Policies and Procedures – cancellation fees, no show fees etc
- FAQ’s page with the usual questions answering things about your massage services.
After you get a few pages up check to see how you are liking the layout and what is happening on your page.
Posts are where you are going to start writing about massage and what it can do and about things like stress, injuries or other things that you always talk about with clients like how muscles work or how healing works. Before you post create a few categories by clicking on the category tab under the post tab. Some ideas would be a section on injuries, stress, general health, stretching, other practitioners (people who you refer to) and things like that. The categories will appear in the left hand column. You set what shows up on your columns in the appearance tab under widgets.
Here is the key to making a blog work: Every blog comes with an xml sitemap. Every wordpress blog automatically creates a special file for you called an xml sitemap. It will tell the search engines what pages you have on your website. The address of your site map is:
(replace yoursitename with just that!)
Now here is the really cool part – in your dashboard there is a section called ‘tools’. Click on that tab and at the bottom of the page there is a section that says “Webmaster tools verification”. When you follow the above steps in submitting your xml sitemap the three search engines – Google, Yahoo and Bing ask for a verification file to be added to your site. It will give you the code to put into your site when you click on verify your site. Just put that information directly into that Webmaster tools section and there it’s done!
While all of this may seem foreign and confusing – try not to think about it too much or let it get you stuck. Just follow the directions and know that what you are doing is optimizing your site to give it the best chance of getting it found by the search engines.