Over the years, working with clients in the website design and development realm, I have come across these two questions plenty of times. It is surprising how many clients have no clue about what content is needed in a website – even tech firm clients, let alone the fact that they are the ones who should be providing the content.

Many clients get frustrated when you ask them to provide content that you will use to build them a website. Some will innocently respond: “I thought it is your job to make me a website?”; while others will be so put-off that they will leave in a huff never to return. However, as daunting as the thought of coming up with everything your site needs may seem, there is a simple remedy that will get you focused and ready to tackle web content by the horns.

But before we get to the solution, let’s first dispell some myths:

Myth 1: The website designer comes up with your content
Sorry to burst your bubble, but you – as the client – are solely responsible for the content that will go up on your website. You will prepare the content that you would like your website team to include on your website.

Myth 2: The website designer is a great Englishman who will come up with your text and make it amazing
Unfortunately, most website designers don’t even speak English (hahah!), so don’t let them convince you that they do. A copywriter is the person you should be looking for. I know, most people don’t know who that is, they probably think he has something to do with protecting stuff on your site, but no, it’s the person who prepares the text that will go onto your website and makes it sexy and memorable.

Now that we know it is you – the client – who will prepare the bulk of the content, let’s find out just what content you should consider for inclusion in your website. We’ll solve this great mystery by asking ourselves a few questions.

1. Who are you?
As the client, you will need to provide information about your firm, such as: what is the name of your company? When was it founded and why? You will include your mission statement, a small history about your firm, its vision and everything else that will help the visitor connect with your firm. Remember, the visitor doesn’t know your firm! Tell them about ‘yourself’.

2. What products / services do you offer?
Describe these in detail. List each product or service and describe it in a way that does not make any assumptions. It may be obvious to you that your firm provides the most state-of-the-art cameras, but your website visitor has no clue and it may be exactly what they were searching for. Don’t give scanty one-liners, tell it like it is. If in doubt, present them with as much information as you can.

3. What is your competitive edge?
As a client, I want to know why I should take up this service or product from you. Tell me why you are better than the competition. What has set you apart?  Your visitors / potential clients want to know what that competitive edge is. Whether it is amazing customer support, a product with an extra-long warranty, or fast service, let them know what they will get when they sign up for your service or purchase that product that you believe nobody else offers in the market.

4. Do you have testimonials and portfolios?
Have you sold you product or service before? If so, to whom? A harsh business lesson that one must learn is that referrals sell. Provide a:
i. List of satisfied clients and or testimonials. People enjoy familiarity, tell them people they might know or institutions in their industry that have sampled your product or service and what they had to say about it. Chances are high this will convince them to buy from you if they need your product or service.
ii. List of previous projects you have undertaken with supporting multimedia and client contacts (if possible). This helps to prove your capability.

6. What more might the potential client need to know?
As a client I may have some questions to ask before I make that final decision to call you up and procure your products / services. This is what the FAQ (frequently asked questions) section is all about. As the owner of the website, the onus is on you to understand your industry well enough to answer those questions that a large majority of your potential clients will have. List them and provide their answers.

7. How can you be reached?
So now I’m interested, how do I get in touch with you? Unless you have no intention of being found, it is vital that you provide a list of your contacts to help potential clients to reach you from postal addresses, physical addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, social media profiles (if you don’t have these, ensure you create them) and pages, etc.

8. Do you have any news or articles that your clients would be interested in reading or knowing about?
Your clients would like to find our whenever there are new products or service offerings.

Email newsletters will provide content that will be sent to clients who sign up in order to be kept up-to-date with the proceedings in your firm/industry. Your newsletter content will contain: industry rules, questions customers ask (get these from your customer support team), solutions to common challenges when using your products or services, lists of the most interesting personalities, ongoings or items in your industry, fun facts and calendar events in your industry or firm. Feel free to add anything more your clients will find interesting here.

Unlike the other content items we have covered hitherto, the email newsletter content should be constantly fresh. As a simple guideline, provide a minimum of 3 articles for inclusion in your brand new website.

9. Do you have any multimedia (video, audio or images)?
It is prudent to gather videos, audio and or pictures that communicate your message clearly for sharing with your online audience. These would include product or service overviews, promotional videos or advertisements and the like.

10. Is there any ‘stuff’ your visitors to download from your website?
Depending on your industry, your website may contain downloadable content be it application forms, portfolio documents, brochures, service request forms, school admission requirements, free items etc. If you are in such an industry, gather these items and include them in your content list.

We’re done for now
Next time you think of launching a new website, I hope you’ll find the above information useful as a guideline so that your website designer/developer can easily get to making that awesome site for you. So we have all the content it’s now time for your designer/developer and copywriter to get to work. Hurray!

Enjoy your day and say goodbye to lack of content.

1.  You’re the boss.
You knew this one was coming, didn’t you? It’s the one we all dreamed about when we realized self-employment was a viable option: being our own boss. Escaping the rat race and living life as we pleased. Remember that?

When you’re self-employed, you no longer have “higher powers” governing your every move. You control how your work is done. Your client has a say in the final product, but that’s it — their power ends there. How you get from point A to point B is completely up to you and that is awesome.

2. You earn more money.
On average, research shows that freelancers earn 45% more than those who are traditionally employed. Freelancers also tend to hide certain business expenses that employees cannot, allowing them to actually keep more of what they earn.

3. You spend less.
Those who work from home really get this one. Most people who are employed travel to and from work on a daily basis. They buy lunch and other snacks every day.

Think of a self-employed home-worker. They eat food that is already in their monthly budget and only travel when necessary. No traffic jams or long queues at Kencom, Ambassador, Railways or whichever bus station you normally get your bus from every evening from 5pm, or getting rained on early in the morning just cause you have to get to work. And when they do get to travel, they can choose to travel off-peak.

Just imagine how much time and effort you save.

4. You are free to get off the daily routine.
When you are an employee your job description never changes. You know how boring it gets. You’ve basically crammed your routine and are on auto-pilot for most of the day, save for the odd office-drama here and there.

As a freelancer, there’s no more routine to your life. Your job and skills are constantly redefined. You need more talent, more creativity and more knowledge. Every client presents a new challenge or opportunity.

As your business grows, so does your skillset, and the satisfaction that comes with it is nothing compared to life in employment.

5. No co-worker drama.
Most freelancers work alone. As challenging and /or limiting as this may be at times you rarely miss the drama from co-workers who can be a pain in the butt. You only put up with what you want to put up with. You choose your employees and are free to show them the door if you feel that you can’t work with them.

6. Lazy Day? No worries!
Everyone has those days when you just don’t feel like doing anything. Freelancers have the power to do whatever they wish on such days.

Employed? Well, forget the notion of getting on the phone and telling your boss that you just don’t feel like going to work and will make up for it tomorrow.

7. The end of bureaucracy.
Want a new laptop? Done. New desk and whiteboard? Done. No consultations with your boss or the procurement guy. No waiting for departmental budgets to be submitted to the CFO, it’s just you and the bank account separating you from the next acquisition. Work should be fun and you get to have all the gadgetry you need, assuming of course that you have the funds to boot your desires.

Holidays can be taken whenever you want, especially when business is low and it can be as sporadic as you wish. No submission of leave forms is required. So you don’t need to justify your leave to anyone.

Employed? Well, let’s just say you’ll have to run your request through your head of department, who will have to ask…. get the drift?

8. No uniforms.
Being self-employed is a bit like being on a never-ending holiday, no ties required!

Well, not unless you’re meeting with a really formal client, in person – you can wear (or not wear) whatever you please.

Tell that to your human resources officer over in the corporate sector.

9. You set your own schedule.
Whether you crave the steady familiarity of a fixed schedule, or you long to mix it up with hours that are more flexible; as your own boss, you’re the one who creates your schedule.

If you’re not a morning person, you can rest easy knowing that you no longer have to set your alarms in duplicate in order to just barely make your morning meeting. Or, if early’s your style, you can set your hours for the dawn and have a full day’s work done before your kids get up for school.

10. You choose your own customers.
When you work as an employee, you’re more-or-less forced to serve whoever decides to show up at your employer’s place of business. Whether it’s the guy who married the girl of your dreams or the old geezer who screams at you because he still hasn’t quite figured out how to update the website or the confused woman who’s called three times in the past hour with the exact same customer service question: you had to help them. Because that was your job.

You’re the one in control now, not them. You choose who you provide services to.

The Final Word
When the stress of everyday life starts to wear thin on you, it can be hard to remember how amazing your life — your business — really is. You may even consider giving it all up from time to time when you think about your worst customers, marketing and getting little business in return for your long hours and more…

But the truth is: self-employment is a fantastic lifestyle choice. Be thankful.