Lee: Well, hello, Samantha, thank you so much for coming on the Coach with Clarity Podcast.
Samantha: Thanks for having me, Lee.
Lee:: I feel like we have known each other for a very long time. When I think back to the beginnings of my business and some of the early activities I was involved with – you were there. I think that we've known each other for at least five years. Am I right?
Samantha: Yeah, it's been quite a while.
Lee: We have Reina Pomeroy, I think, to thank for bringing us together. So, shout out to Reina on that.
Lee: So Samantha, I would love to kick things off by talking a little bit about who you are, and the work that you do for the world.
Samantha: Sure. So, I'm Samantha Mabe, I am a business owner. I'm a wife and a mom to a very talkative toddler. I help business owners and coaches and creatives with website design. So I really concentrate on helping people create a website that reflects the quality of work that they're doing, so that they can spend less time like cringing because they're asked for their website and more time just confidently sharing it, updating it and spending time on the work that they actually want to be doing.
Lee: I love that, I think back to the very first iteration of my website, and I had a mix of feelings around it because I totally DIY’d it. And so there was a little bit of pride, like, “Look what I created!” But it was also like, “Ew, look what I created.” Like, I'm definitely not a professional here. So the idea of feeling confident about your website and actually wanting to share it that really resonates with me.
Samantha: Yeah. And so many people start off DIY-ing, and I think that's great. Like, when we start a business, you've just got to get stuff off the ground, you don't have a ton of money to invest. But once you have grown, it's, you know, it can be time to really hire somebody professional. And that's where I find most of my clients is they've done this for a while, they really know what they're doing, and they're ready to outsource some of the pieces of their business.
Lee: Yes. So before we get into that, I do want to hear a little more about how you came to be doing this type of work. Have you always done web design?
Samantha: I have not. So my degree is in architecture and I did that for my undergraduate. But to be an architect, you have to go get a Masters, do a three year internship. It's like seven exams and all of this stuff and I just was burnt out after my first four years of school. So I ended up at a small company where I was doing some accounting and some graphic design, and kind of learned a little bit about websites there. And when my husband relocated for his job, I decided I was going to freelance and try to start like a blog business. So I started doing whatever graphic design came my way, then honed in really on branding, so I did logos and websites. And from there, I discovered that I really liked the website piece and I would rather leave the logos and the color palettes to somebody else. So I've been doing strictly websites for about five, four or five years now.
Lee: I don't think I realized you had a background in architecture, which I think is fascinating. And when when I really think about it, it makes so much sense then that you would move into web design, because really what you're doing is creating architecture for someone's online, home, someone's online space.
Samantha: Yes. And I know my parents are like, “You never used your degree!” But I've learned, I use so many of the skills that I learned in school and so I feel like it was kind of training for that. But you get out in the real world. And it's not always what you expect it's going to be.
Lee: That is very true. And I feel similarly, I have a degree in public health and when I think about some of the jobs I've had in the past before I became a coach, it doesn't look like I would necessarily need to have a public health degree. But so much of what I learned in that program, when it comes to program design and implementation, and management and evaluation, that's very much a part of the work that I do now both in terms of coaching my clients and also in creating my own programs. So I think you're exactly right, that even if we have training or a background in something that doesn't necessarily seem to fit right off the bat. There's so often skills and experience answers that are relevant to the work that we do. And it sounds like you found that in architecture and maybe I found that in public health.
Lee: Well, let's talk more about websites, because that's definitely a question I get a lot from members of the Coach with Clarity Collective and from my students and my clients. And really a fundamental question is, “What is – What should it look like? What do I really need to have on my website?” So kind of give us the general lay of the land, what do you feel like are the must haves when it comes to a coach's website?
Samantha: Well, the good news for coaches is you don't need something complicated.
Samantha: Haha, yes. Because you're offering a service and not products and all kinds of different options for people to choose from, you can keep things pretty simple. I like to tell people that they need four pages for a website that is going to give people all the information that they need and convert well. And those would be a homepage, where you're kind of introducing yourself, you're giving people information about what you do overall, and some options of where to go next, based on where they are in their journey with you. You need an about page to really introduce yourself and kind of connect you to them. A sales page or a services page, I kind of use those interchangeably for a coach website, because your services are really the product that you're selling. So you're selling it, you know, as you're including all the things that you would on a sales page to make sure you're answering all those questions and objections, and making sure people are a good fit to work with you. And then you need a contact page so that people can get in touch with you. They can ask questions. They can follow you on social media, whatever information they need, that they didn't get from their website is what you're going to put there. And then I always like to add that if you have something like a blog or a podcast, it's a great way to boost your search engine rankings. So you can add that to your website, but you don't have to have it.
Lee: I love how streamlined you've made it. So really bare minimum, there's four elements. There's the homepage, the about page, the sales or services page, and then the contact page. I would love to ask you a little bit about how to differentiate a homepage from an about page. Because I know in working on my website, that's a question I often have. And I get a little confused about what really belongs on a homepage versus what belongs on an about page or maybe even my services page. What recommendations do you have for people when it comes to figuring out what really belongs on that first homepage?
Samantha: Sure. So I like to say that when somebody lands on your homepage, because that's generally the first page they're going to come to, you need to make it really clear what it is that you do and who you work with, and the big transformation that they get. You're not going into details about how that happens yet, but you want them to know right away, if they are in the right place for the thing that they're looking for. And then you're going to spend a little bit of time introducing them to your business. So what is the overall mission statement of your business, who you are, so you can have a short bio, that then I like to link that to the about page so they can learn more about you, but you just kind of want to give them an overview of who you are. And then you have the “Choose Your Own Adventure” section I like to call it, so you give them options for where they're at in their journey and where they can go next. Usually, this looks like you know, check out my about page to learn more about me, check out my services to see if we're a good fit to work together, and it might be you know, read my blog to learn more about stuff. You're giving people kind of options based on if they're ready to invest in a big service or if they're just trying to learn more from you, if they want kind of your free information. You give them the ability to choose. And then you've always want to include some testimonials there so that as people are on your website on that very first page, they're seeing that you have social proof you know what you're doing, and the results that you're getting for your clients are what they're looking for as they are searching for a coach.
Lee: That makes so much sense. And actually as you were speaking, I started to see the homepage almost like a book jacket. You know, you want that book cover to be engaging and appealing so that people want to learn more. And then of course, you flip it over. And you've got a summary and a little bit about the author, and all of the basics. But you know that the heart of the book is within the pages. But that book cover is so important in terms of grabbing someone's attention and providing them with kind of the basics. So then they know, “Alright, is this the right place for me and where do I need to go next?”
Samantha: Yes, that's a really good way to look at it.
Lee: Awesome. So, I know that you've worked with a number of coaches on their websites. And I'm curious, from your perspective, what do you see working particularly well, for coaches, what are some best practices that that you'd like to share?
Samantha: I always like to see coaches have a variety of headshots, and maybe images of them working. I know, so many of us don't want to be out on our website or our social media all the time with our image. But that is really what connects with people because they're going to be working one on one with you. They're, they want to see who you are, and see your personality. So that's a big thing that works well. And then just really finding a way to communicate your personality, your style of coaching through your website, you don't want it to be the same boring thing that everybody has, if you are a really fun and bubbly person, you want to be able to communicate that through your site. And then the other thing that I see that works really well is on that services page, treating it like a sales page. You're really trying to hone in on who is the right fit client, answer any objections that they might have, let them know, you know, this is what our process looks like, together. You know whether that's very specific, or it's just kind of big chunks of a process that vary from person to person. And then answer their FAQs. Give them the answers that they're looking for right on that page. And then let them sign up for a sales call or book their next service with you whatever that next step might be.
Lee: Those are such great tips. I'm thinking about what you shared at the beginning, having photos of you at work on your web page. And yeah, again, thinking about that very first website that I designed for myself, I had a picture, one picture of me on there, in my bio section, and all of the other pictures were stock photos of a sunset, you know, over the ocean, maybe or maybe there was a forest or maybe there was, you know, a random collective of people working together. But none of them reflected me, none of them reflected my brand and so it felt very distant. And I'm curious to know, like, I feel like there is a time and a place for stock photography. I don't know how, if and how it belongs on a coach's website, what what are your thoughts about that?
Samantha: I tend to use stock photography for coaches in almost a background way. So if you've got a section on your website where somebody can sign up for your newsletter, or download your freebie. You can use a stock photo behind that to just add some interest, to delineate the different parts of your site. That's a really good way to use it. You might use them if you have different options for your services, different tiers. So if you're going to list those out, you might have some stock images there. But you definitely want your main headline images, your headshots all of that to be images of you or with you in them, or at least, that really reflect your brand. And that's hard to get unless you spend a lot of time looking through stock photos.
Lee: Very true. I love how you frame that as stock photos can provide that kind of background almost like texture, you know, just another dimension without featuring it front and center. And I think when stock photos are featured front and center, that's where it can feel a little distant, a little removed. So, really placing yourself at the front and then allowing those stock photos to kind of recede.
Lee: That is such a great tip. I also love the idea of having an FAQ on your website so that your ideal clients when they come to your page, they can pretty easily get answers to questions. Are there particular questions you feel like most coaches should address on their web pages?
Samantha: The ones that I see most frequently that people find helpful are, a question about your pricing – if you're not super explicit about that elsewhere. People kind of want to know what that investment level is going to be. A lot of times, a question that will come up is, you know, “Is this the right time for me to invest?” So, am I in the right phase of my business, if you're a business coach, or what type of businesses do you work with? So you're just really clarifying, so that people know if you are the right coach for them. And then the other one that sometimes people will ask is, you know, “Which package is right for me?” or “What's the difference between your coaching and your group program?” Kind of look at the different options that you have for people and make it very clear, which one would be the right fit for where they are, so that you can eliminate getting on a sales call with somebody and realizing that they actually just need your freebie or they should be in a different program. That's, you know, not the thing that you thought you were going to be talking about when you jumped on a call.
Lee: Yeah, so really letting that FAQ almost serve as your screener – so that people can make sure yes, I'm in the right place. This is the right fit. It not only saves you time, it saves them time as well.
Samantha: Yes, and that way people know when they're signing up for a call that it's actually going to be valuable. They're not just getting on there to ask, “Oh, well, is this is this the right fit for me?” You might still have some of that, but it eliminates a lot of that fear and anxiety for your clients. And it makes your life easier because you're not having to answer those questions all the time for people.
Lee: And anything we can do to reduce fear and anxiety in a potential client is going to serve us in the long run.
Lee: And will make them more likely to want to take the next step. Now, I know one thing that does generate fear and anxiety in clients is the cost, the financial component. And when it comes to websites, I know a question I hear a lot from coaches is whether or not they should have their prices on their website. And I'm just curious, Samantha, if you have any strong opinions on that topic?
Samantha: I do, I really think that it is helpful to have your prices on your website. If it varies based on different factors than at least having a “starting at” price or “most clients spend” price. What I have found from talking to business owners, and from their potential clients is that if there's not a price listed somewhere, people are a lot less likely to start the process of working with you, because they assume it's going to be a high six figure offer. Which might not necessarily be true, but that is their assumption. If you're not showing your price, it's because it's way out of what they can afford.
Lee: I totally agree with you. And it's interesting, because when I started coaching, I remember a lot of the feedback I would get would be “Don't put your prices on your website. You don't want to create barriers to someone getting on a call with you. And you can always talk about pricing once you get them on that call.” But what I found both as a coach and as a client, is that that was always the elephant in the room, it was always the question of “Okay, this sounds great, how much is it going to cost me?” And so by removing that from the very beginning, by being transparent about your pricing, on your website, you remove that from the call. And so then your client is able to really focus on what it is you're talking about, and they're not getting distracted by, “Okay, how much is this going to cost?”
Samantha: Yeah. And because I have my prices listed on my site, and in my application that people fill out, when we get on a call, we don't even talk about pricing, because they already know where it falls. My only question is, do you want to pay in full? Or do you want the two payment plan? And that, you know, then I don't have to be nervous about talking about pricing, and they already know what it is. So it eliminates a lot of that for both you and for clients.
Lee: I'd love too that you presented a couple options. So if you don't have one set price for a particular program or service, the idea of a starting at gives people a ballpark idea. And then also sharing what most clients wind up investing. So understanding that there's some flexibility, but on the whole most clients wind up choosing this for this rate.
Lee: Terrific. So we've talked about some best practices and some options. I'm curious if you've seen any common pitfalls, or stumbling blocks that coaches often run into when it comes to their websites?
Samantha: Most of the pitfalls I see are not just specific to coaches, but they're just websites in general. The first one, and it's an easy one to fix is that people don't have enough calls to action on their site. So you want to make sure that people do not have to scroll more than a couple of screen links, before there is a call to action to the next step with working with you. That's especially true for your services page, people are not going to scroll all the way up to the top or all the way down to the bottom, you want to give them a call to actions at least once in the middle, so that they can hit that button. As soon as they are ready and they don't have to find it, you reduce friction, and people are more likely to keep going if they're not having to like scroll around and find where they fill out that form or whatever the step is.
Lee: I love that tip. Because I'm thinking about, some of these sales pages are really long. You know, we could have a whole nother conversation about that. But I have found myself like scrolling, endlessly trying to figure out where the “Learn More” or “Buy Now” button is, especially if I'm on my phone. And I know, having a mobile friendly site is so important and those calls to action peppered throughout. I mean, it's helpful even if you're on a desktop or laptop, but it's especially important if you're on a phone or a tablet.
Lee: What else? Are there any other kind of stumbling blocks that you see service providers have on their websites?
Samantha: The other big one is just not taking into account the accessibility of your site. So the big things that I see here that are easy to change are having a font size that is really small, or that is a really light color. So the contrast is not high enough for everybody to be able to read. We want to make our websites as accessible as possible. So I like to say that your font size should be at least 16. Sometimes it can be larger, if you've got a blog with long paragraphs of text. And you are much better off using a really dark gray or black text than you are a light gray. Because if somebody is looking at your screen, and they can't read it, it's clearly not going to be working for them, they're not going to hire you if they can't find out about what you do and who you are.
Lee: That's a great point. In fact, I remember stumbling on someone's website, and it was literally a purple background with yellow font. It was painful, it really hurt my eyes, it tired my eyes to try to read it. And so I know we want to stand out and we want to have a big bold website. But at the end of the day, sometimes simplicity is what works best. And so having that light background with dark font, dark gray or black is often the easiest way to go.
Samantha: Yes. And there are tools that you can check that. So I use WebAIM’s Contrast Checker, you just put in the color of your background, the color of your text, and it will tell you whether or not it passes accessibility guidelines. And you can adjust from there. So it's really easy. You don't even have to guess you can just see yes, this works or no, we need to change it.
Lee: What a great resource. Tell me the name of that again?
Samantha: It's WebAIM Contrast Checker.
Lee: Excellent. We will be sure to have a link to that in the show notes because that is a fantastic resource. So, Samantha, my last question for you, is about the process of working with a professional web designer like yourself. So if I'm a coach, who has up till now been kind of bootstrapping my own website, and I'm thinking about hiring a designer to help me take my website to the next level. What are some things I should keep in mind? What should I be looking for or asking when I'm consulting with a designer?
Samantha: I think the first thing you need to think about is if you have a preference on platform. So for some people, they won't care which platform they're on but others want to be on a specific one, ShowIt, Squarespace, Wordpress, whatever that is. And most designers only work in one of those, so that can really quickly eliminate other people that you're looking at. The second thing to consider is just take a look at their portfolio and see if the style that they have is similar to what you're thinking. You don't want to recreate somebody else's website. But are they really bright and colorful on every website they designed, but you want something that's a little bit more muted and neutral? That might be a good indicator of whether it's a good designer or not. And then just look at their process. So how much help do they give you along the way? You know, what information are they going to collect? How many revisions and edits are they going to give you and kind of judge based on what you think, is going to work for you personally. So my process is a one day process. So you get to give feedback in one or two spots, but the rest of it I do in the day, behind the scenes. If you want to be able to give feedback on every detail of a website, I don't recommend that. But you can, then you want somebody who works that way that you're giving feedback on every page before they finish it up.
Lee: That's really helpful to think about, because I know for many of us, you know, our website feels really personal. And the thought of turning it over to someone else to do can feel a little scary. And so we think “I want to be involved and I want to give a lot of feedback.” But at the same time, we also need to trust our designer and their expertise.
Lee: You know, we we are working with them because they are the expert in this area. And so finding that balance between being involved providing feedback and making sure that your brand, your voice is accurately represented in the design, but also giving the designer their freedom to bring something extraordinary to life for you.
Samantha: Yes. And designers will generally know kind of what you need on a website, and they're able to direct that. So the things you're giving feedback on are, do I like the way this looks? Do I like the colors and images. And so it just depends on how much you want to spend time doing that. And the more feedback you want to give, the longer the process is going to take because it's just more back and forth.
Lee: That makes a lot of sense. Okay. Samantha, we have covered so much in a relatively short period of time. So I'm really grateful for your wisdom and your willingness to share such important tips with me and with the listeners of the Coach with Clarity Podcast. And I know that there are going to be people who want to learn more about you and your work. So where is the best place for people to find you and connect with you?
Samantha: I am usually hanging out on Instagram, you can find me @LemonAndTheSea. And if you have a website and you're not really sure what needs to be changed or why it's not working, I have free website reviews that I offer. So you can get those at my website, lemonandthesea.com/websitereview and you just submit, you know, what it is you're struggling with and I will give you a video walkthrough of some options that might help.
Lee: What a fantastic offer too. That's so generous. So definitely take Samantha up on that if you are working on your website and looking possibly to partner with a designer. We'll make sure we've got links to her website, that offer, and her social media in the show notes. So Samantha again, I just want to thank you for coming on the show today and being a part of the Coach with Clarity Podcast.
Samantha: Thank you so much for having me. I'm hopefully people can find some things to help with their websites and really start to share what they do with the world.
Lee: Yes, well, I know that they will find such value in what you shared today and will continue to find value in what you share over on your Instagram page and at your website. So definitely check that out. Thanks again, Samantha.
Lee: I am so grateful to Samantha for coming on the show and sharing all of her knowledge with us. It's kind of funny while we were talking, I had a distinct memory of Samantha interviewing me for the podcast she used to host called the Process to Profitability Podcast, and that was my very first ever podcast interview. So I'm not even sure if Samantha knows that, but the very first time I ever gave a podcast interview was for her show. And let's just say I've come a long way since then, I remember literally writing out answers to possible questions she could ask me because I wanted to be so prepared. And now I'm at the point where I realize yes, it's important to be prepared, but it's also important to be conversational. So I am particularly grateful to Samantha, who gave me an opportunity to get my first podcast interview out in the world. I have definitely learned a lot and grown since then. But it wouldn't have happened without that first start. So, Samantha, thank you for coming on my show and thank you for starting me down the path of podcasting.
I hope you will join me next week for another episode of the show. And if you have already subscribed to or follow the Coach with Clarity Podcast, then that episode will show up automatically in your feed. And if you haven't, go ahead and do that now. It should only take 30 seconds and based on what you're using to listen to the show, whether it's Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, there's probably an option to follow or subscribe, or maybe there's a little plus sign. Whatever it looks like on your end, be sure to click that button. That way you can get immediate access to every future episode of the Coach with Clarity Podcast, because I will be right back here next week with a brand new episode just for you. So until then, my name is Lee Chaix McDonough, reminding you to get out there and show the world what it means to be a Coach with Clarity.