Building, creating, starting and setting up an online consultancy website is easy; turning it to a successful and money making revenue channel is where the real work is.
Summary of the brief requirements needed are:
- Your real skill; you cannot offer what you do not have
- Start up cost or set up cost of approximately USD150-550
- Purchase of a mobile responsive WordPress themes template ( from USD35-129)
- Registration of a domain name
- Installation of WordPress software and its configuration
5 Hard Truths to Know
The following are important considerations when setting up an online consultancy website for your business:
- Please know that only professionals runs and operate a consultancy business; being a consultant requires that you have a high level of knowledge, skill and deep information about that particular chosen field or niche.
- Working online with the aim to become successful and get leads, customers requires a lot of work. You will need to take it seriously and work the same way you work in your physical office, with total dedication and commitment.
- Do not be disappointed in your first six months; you may not get attention, sales and clients. Sometimes, it takes close to a year before a website gets matured and starts getting attention it deserves from the search engines (Google, Bing etc.)
- From experience, it is better and good to go local and one of the best way to do this is to place advert of your consultancy website on Google Adwords.
- Have a plan – short term and long term; build the site for at least 2 years (domain and hosting packages); in addition, consistency is the key to the success of the site.
Be specific on your niche
There’s power in being focused. As a consultant that wants to run an online presence through a website, it is highly recommended that people knows you as a professional with just one niche. If you are a building consultant, remain a building consultant and don’t be jack of all trades.
If you are consultant geologist or petroleum Geology consultant, remain as one with special dignity and remain focused.
The choice of your design (Recommended Templates)
One special recommended feature of an online consultant website is to have your own featured image at the FrontPage.
For the design, I am recommending a WordPress powered design; a development known as WordPress themes (website templates).
The overall essence of this tutorial is to help you design your own website by yourself, run and manage it without depending on any web developer or designer.
These templates are professionally designed, my recommendation is to buy them only from the following reputable companies:
Examples of recommended WordPress themes templates for a consultant website design are listed below:
When you check the above companies, just observe and view different templates with their demos and chose the one that best suits your own concept.
Once you get the perfect design, you will need to buy the WordPress themes and download the ZIP file to your computer or laptop whatever it is you are using. The next stage discusses practical steps to handle the installation configuration.
Features expected of a consultancy website / Implementation
What will make your consultancy website become a success factor or vibrant depends on some certain factors / implementation:
- Having real time chat features
- Having mobile responsive contact form
- Being able to place order / Make payment for things, products or services
- Able to schedule an appointment
- Being able to place and make calls (From visitors and customers to you)
Having real time chat features
This is an important development to have on your site. Visitors and customers that requires your services may want to chat and talk with you real time and be able to get feedback rather than sending emails that may take up to 3 days before any response.
This is made possible by the use of the real time chat plugin; with this plugin, you chat with any visitor that lands on your site; the chats are instant and you are well able to get the messages directly on your mobile phones and reply as soon as possible.
The installation and how to get it working is discussed below.
Having mobile responsive contact form
Having a site that is mobile responsive is very much important and that is why all the WordPress themes I am recommending are all mobile responsive. These feature makes it possible to access and view your site on any device perfectly e.g. mobile devices and they are able to do anything they want to do there with ease.
Visitors and customers may also want to send you a well detailed email concerning a project or services/job they want to give you.
However, with a mobile responsive contact form, they can do this even directly from their phone and send you the email.
To get this done and activated on your site is possible with the use of the Jetpack plugin; the installation and configurations is discussed below.
Being able to place order / Make payment for things, products or services
I think this feature should not be debated; it is a must you have this feature. The site should be easy to use to place orders for your services and also be able to make payments.
This feature will be integrated in the design concept and it is made possible with the use of the downloadable plugin.
This plugin process payments for you and you get your money in your PayPal account. Details on how to install and use this plugin is discussed below.
Able to schedule an appointment
When you run such kind of niche business, it is important to make various options available to the people that will be visiting your site; one of the important options is to make it easy for people interested in your consultancy services to be able to make and schedule an appointment with you.
This is possible, simply with the creation of a dedicated page on the menu that reads ‘book an appointment’; this page will contain important details and information to visitors and it will be placed at the primary menu, present in the header ( I will explain later).
Being able to place and make calls (From visitors and customers to you)
This is important and very much similar to the real time chat features; to use this feature, we make use of a special plugin and the plugin installation will be discussed during the configuration guidelines below.
However, It is important you have a dedicated mobile phone for this services and it should be available 24 hours of the day.
All the above features will be made active on your site; to achieve that, we will be making use of what is called WordPress plugins for each task. How to handle this is discussed as you continue reading (under website configuration and set up instructions).
Your brand name, Getting Domain name and website hosting
One of the most important issue not often discussed when it matters to the success of a website is the branding of the site.
The branding and the domain name goes hand in hand and it must be on the same platform of purpose.
E.g. let the name you will be giving your site should be a unique and uncommon name; it should be the type on which you can create logos for, make an envelope for and also should be the same that will cut across your presence on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
This same name should also be used for your domain name; getting and registering for a domain is the number one solid proof that you are ready to go online
A domain name is the technical name the internet protocol knows and understands; examples of a domain name are:
The task before you is to really sit down, craft out a name you will use as a brand, check whether the name can also be used to open free Facebook page, LinkedIn account, twitter and Instagram.
But the most important step is to check and verify whether the name is not in use by anybody yet and you can only do that through the Bluehost domain name registration form below:
If the name if free and available, I suggest you register it immediately in your name or the name of your registered business entity.
The domain name registration and acquisition is incomplete without the hosting of the name; hosting a domain name means you are purchasing space on a web server that will accommodate the name and the contents you will be putting on the name; making it possible for the name to be seen on the internet.
Domain name acquisition is useless if do not host the name. The two processes are intertwine and Bluehost hosting company gives you the option of hosting the domain name.
I recommend that you use Bluehost hosting company because I use them for myself, my clients and they have proven to be reliable since all these years.
Installing WordPress software and its configuration
With the successful domain name acquisition and payment for the hosting of the site, Bluehost hosting company works in the background and guides on the installation WordPress software (necessary to run the site) and the configurations.
All these things are not rocket science and you will be guided on how to handle everything. To make it easy for you, I have attached and uploaded the following images for your better understanding.
skip this, use the template purchased
WordPress is a world renowned software and it is an open source software recommended in the development of a mobile responsive website. During the installation, you will be asked which software you want, chose WordPress (the logo is W).
The following are brief steps required:
- Creating a password for your account (on Bluehost first)
- Choosing WordPress software
- Select a Theme (you can skip this because you already have the perfect, professionally made theme; the ones shown to you will not be perfect for your kind of business)
- Click on start building
- Chose ‘Business’; do not chose ‘Personal’ (the personal one is for a blog)
- Click on Launch (your site will now be accessible online).
However, this is just the beginning because the next stage is about the editing and configuration.
Setting up your consultancy website and total configurations
This is very much practical, we are going to be looking at the following areas and configuration settings:
- WordPress themes upload and designing
- FrontPage Editing and designing
- Header and footer, including Logo
- Permalinks Configuration
- WordPress Plugins and Installation
- Page Settings (Contact Page- Most important), Book your appointment, About, Contact, Advertisement, About, Products, Testimonials/Job Done etc.
- Menu Settings
- Widget settings
Step 7 (1)
WordPress themes upload and designing
I am assuming you have purchased a template specifically to use as you design outlook; if not, I suggest you read my recommendations above, and also check the companies below:
With that said and done; the next step is for you to upload the downloaded purchased ZIP file; follow the guideline below;
- Go to your browser (e.g. safari, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer etc.)
- Type the WordPress login address of your site (it should be in this format); https://www.yoursite.com/wp-admin/ or https://www.yoursite.com/wp-login/
- Your username to login is in most cases your email address or ‘Admin’; your password is only known to, you would have created it during the WordPress software installation and configuration earlier).
- Now, after you login, you will be brought to the dashboard (called the WordPress dashboard), it looks like the image above.
- Inside the dashboard, locate Appearance (it is on the left sidebar); under Appearance, you will see themes, click on ‘Add new themes’ and you will be brought to the settings page.
- Click on upload and locate the ZIP file you earlier downloaded, upload it; once the upload is successful, click on activate. Click save. Press F5 or simply refresh your homepage (yoursite.com/ ) and the new design template will be displayed.
Demo Upload and installation
In most cases, you may want the demo of the purchased template so that your site will look exactly like the themes you bought; to do that, first install the importer plugin; the following is the actual guideline:
- Upload and activate the purchased themes as earlier explained.
- Go to the left hand side of your dashboard, under appearance, locate ‘import’; then from here, click on the importer plugin.
- Install and activate the plugin, once it is successful, the plugin will ask you what you want
- Go to your ZIP file , open it and locate the demo file which is usually an extension in this format; demo.xml
- Click on it, and the importer plugin will import al the demo contents to your site
Step 7 (2)
FrontPage Editing and designing
Even, after uploading the demo; the site may look scattered, do not worry, the next step is to start arranging every element together.
You will need to edit the FrontPage and set it up; for example, if you uploaded the demo and you discover that the picture from the demo is not showing on your site, it means the picture is not imported which in most cases happens like that.
The solution is to save the image from the source (demo template), and after that, you upload it on your own site.
To edit the FrontPage, you can do it using:
- The widget settings
- The FrontPage edit tools / settings
- The widget settings can be located under ‘Appearance’, then you click on widgets; every element used to build the site is saved and contained in the widget. It is from here, you can start removing, replacing, displacing and adjusting virtually anything you want.
The instructions will be clearly written out for you in simple English.
2. The FrontPage edit tools / settings: The FrontPage itself contains edit links for you to delete, remove, replace and do anything you want. Just look out for the edit link at the top of the home (FrontPage) and you start the whole process.
If you can be patient, observant and learn, you will become master of anything website development!!
Step 7 (3)
Header and footer, including Logo
The beauty of the WordPress software is that it is very easy to use and the interface is self-teaching on its own.
The header is the top of any website, and it is here you have the logo, some advert and the description somewhat.
You can adjust the header and edit it from the widget settings. On some themes, the whole instructions is written in simple form for you to understand.
If you want to use your logo and upload it, the instructions to do that with the size dimension (i.e. in inches, pixel etc.) will be written and spelt out for you to know in the widget.
The footer is the bottom of the site; both the header and footer remains the same throughout the entire pages, posts and categories of the site.
The footer also can be adjusted and edited from the same widget settings; all these things are rocket science, you just need to give it time and study carefully.
Step 7 (4)
In simple English, your permalinks talks about the URL structure of the site on the browser; not to confuse you, you will simply go the permalink settings and change the default settings from date based to name based.
- Go to appearance, and locate permalinks
- From permalinks, change the date based permalinks to name based permalinks.
- Click save and exit the page.
- The permalinks setting is important for search engine optimization advantages, do not miss out on this simple settings.
Step 7 (5)
WordPress Plugins and Installation
Without WordPress plugins, a WordPress built site will not work very well because these plugins serves as the blood and catalyst needed to run it.
With a plugin, you can do anything with your site; remember, I made mention of the features expected of a business website and all the features mentioned can only be possible with the use of the applicable plugin.
The following plugins are the basic and important plugins to install and activated on your site:
- Yoast SEO plugin: very important for the SEO settings, sitemap creation, meta description etc.
- W3 Total Cache: it accelerates the loading speed of your site, very much important.
- Akismet: Very important for security, spam check etc.
- Jetpack plugin; The JetPack plugin is the most important out of them all; we are going to need it for so many functions e.g. the creation of a professionally looking contact form for your contact page.
- Sumo plugin: The very best plugin to create social media links to share your pages and posts. It is mobile responsive and highly recommended. It is even excellent to use as your subscription form (getting email leads from visitors and customers).
Aside this listed plugins, the following are advance plugins you will need to run important functions on your site; they include ( remember, some of these task the plugins are supposed to do has already been inbuilt in the themes you purchased, so check the theme properly and if not present, then you can install them):
- Real time (online) chat plugin: This plugin makes it possible for you to have a real time chat with your visitors and customers on your site. We have the free versions and the premium versions. I recommend you have this plugin installed.
- Mobile responsive contact form plugin: The jetpack plugin does this task, however, if you do not want this feature from the Jetpack plugin; there’s a standalone plugin called the Contact Form 7 that you can use. But my recommendation is to use the JetPack plugin.
- Being able to place order / Make payment for things, products or services: The recommended plugins for this are:
- The Ecommerce/Woocommerce plugin: Very much handy and ideal to run an eCommerce website.
- Easy Digital Downloadable Plugin: Makes it easy to sell eCopies of anything e.g. audio, video, eBooks etc; it processes everything so fast and payment is made to your PayPal account.
Step 7 (6)
We are going to create pages now; however, if you made use of the uploaded demo, you should know that some pages would have been created, just visit the pages section ( seen by the left hand side of the dashboard), click on it and you can start making changes.
However, if not, then it means you will start creating your pages. Important pages to create includes:
- Book your appointment page
- Testimonials/jobs Done
- Area of expertise
- Price/Cost ( this is optional)
- product ( optional)
- Terms of service
To create a page is easy;
- On your dashboard, you will see the icon for ‘Page’ (at the left hand side), click on it and click on ‘Add new page’
- Give it a title (e.g. Book your appointment); on the page, before you hit publish, you will see ‘featured images (towards the right hand side bottom), upload a featured image, after this, click on publish, and the page will go live.
This is how you create your contact page:
- Publish the contact page as you would a normal page
- Go to JetPack plugin settings and activate it. You activate it by linking with a newly opened free wordpress.com account.
- Go back to your published contact page, refresh the page and click on edit.
- On the edit page, you will see the contact icon amongst the list of tools, click on it and it will be added to the page; a box will pop up and you can create details for the contact form.
Step 7 (7)
Your menu settings is divided into the primary and secondary menu. The image below is what a menu means.
The wise application on the use of a menu will accelerate your success rate. For example, notable and important pages should be placed at the primary menu because it is the primary menu that is present just below the header (logo), as seen in the image above.
Step 7 (8)
As earlier mentioned, the widget is just like the engine room and from the widget, you can edit and control the entire website.
Getting on Google search console for indexing
After this whole processes, it is time to submit your new consultancy website to Google search console for indexing.
This process is important so that people will be able to search for your site on Google search pages. Any site not on Google is practically not in existence!!
To submit to Google search console, go to the search console at www.google.com/console
All the above discussions were all centered on the technical issues when setting up your site; that is just the beginning.
For SEO purposes, I recommend you install the Yoast SEO plugin
In this stage that we are, I will be sharing and discussing practical steps to take to make the site successful. In other words, these steps are marketing related and it is important you carry out the tasks.
Maintenance of the site
You need to maintain your site periodically and you do that by simply updating the software, themes and installed plugins. To do that, study the image below:
Success Tips / Promotion
Investing in Guest posting
I call it investing in guest posting because that is the ideal phrase to use for it. When talking about Guest posting, it means writing on other people’s website and blog with the aim to expose your blogs, get some of their visitors to visit yours and also to get backlinks (needed for organic search rankings).
The concept of guest posting is important for a new website like yours and it is important you do it.
However, the challenge is that the act of guest blogging is difficult and you may not get the time and the necessary research looking for related websites that will accept article/blog post from you.
On a personal note, I recommend you set aside the sum of USD1000 and pay it to professional freelance writers and companies who will handle the guest posting task for you. You can get them by doing simple Google search for these professional writers.
Going live /active on LinkedIn, Facebook and twitter
Your first point of call when it comes to being on social media networks is LinkedIn. You cannot be running a professional online consultancy website business and not be on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is the ripe place to meet and get people of the same like minds. You are even guaranteed to get business contracts and jobs there.
LinkedIn is the social network for business leaders, key decision makers, working professionals, investors etc.; wants to be taken seriously, then get an active presence on the site.
- Sign up for a free account on LinkedIn (after a while, upgrade to be on premium account, there are lots of benefits there).
- Start writing and publishing thoughts provoking articles and contents on it
- Follow people of like minds; join related groups and communities, be involved in responding to comments etc.
- But importantly, learn to share your website pages, posts, products on LinkedIn with consistency.
Facebook and Twitter
Open a free Facebook business page and do the same thing for twitter. Use your domain name for this purpose because of branding, upload pictures of your products/services as your profile / background pictures.
Use a powerful description about your business in the profile section and starts following people of like minds.
You can spend little money to get followers/fans and likes on Facebook to get started.
Blog alongside your main website
Blogging is simply writing and publishing white paper articles and contents around your niche and publishing them on the blog section of your website.
Blogging makes your site to be active before the eyes of the search engines, blogging makes people to know more about you, your products and your site.
Blogging is an important element that needs to be done if you have a business online, so do it.
You can read my earlier article on how to start a blog for your business HERE.
Network, network, network
The world of business revolves around networking; you cannot just sit down in your office and expect jobs and contracts to come to you.
You need to be up and doing to get things moving; the same concept applies to running an effective online consultancy business website.
Network yourself with fellow bloggers and business associate.
- Join LinkedIn; search under groups/communities, join various business groups/communities and get active on them
- Join Facebook groups through your Facebook page; join the groups that relates to your niche business, get active on them
- Join Google+ circles, join business communities that relates to you.
- Drop comments on business blogs; when you read any article or blog post online, drop an insightful comment and link back to your website using your name
This is the whole concept of networking and believe me, it works like charm.
If you need to create and set up this niche business of yours online, you can reach out to me, I will be glad to be of help.