Back in August 2016, I re-launched my FIFTH website for this business. You could say I’ve been around the design block when it comes to websites. I’ve gone from a Wix Site, to a ProPhoto Site, to a custom designed site, to a Restored 316 Site and finally to the Showit 5 Website that I have now. Whew!
Not all website platforms are created equally. Platforms like Wix and Squarespace (and even Showit 5) are all tailor-made for the DIY website builder at heart. But just because you can make a site look really pretty really easily, does not mean you have a good website.
My very first website for this business was built on Wix. It was a breeze to design as a total newbie to using the world wide web for my own website, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you actually want to gain traction online.
Enter my transition to WordPress.
It is no secret that WordPress is king when it comes to SEO (search engine optimization!). Having a WordPress site helped me skyrocket my website’s SEO and in turn got me more bookings and business (that was back when I was still a wedding planner!). I went from practically non-existent in your average Google search for Jacksonville Wedding Planner to on the first page within a matter of months after switching to a WordPress site and ramping up my blogging efforts.
When I first switched to WordPress, I used the ProPhoto theme. It is a great theme and I still recommend it to this day. It is fairly easy to design on (I had virtually zero coding knowledge at the time and was able to create a design I loved!), and better than ever with their updated ProPhoto 6 version.
I left ProPhoto behind about 2.5 years into business. At the time, I had built another branch of my business: Brand Design. I was completely booked out with branding clients and was building sites right and left with the ProPhoto template, but I really wanted to get into custom WordPress design and partner with a development team to help me uplevel my design client experience.
It seemed natural to have my own custom site if I wanted to offer the service for my clients. So I hired a local company to take my custom web design mockups and complete the development.
Well… that experience didn’t go so well. The developer I was working with from their team completely dropped the ball and the entire working relationship was a MESS. I finally got them to at least finish the site enough for me to launch and use it, but as I continued to grow my blog, I quickly realized that the site was very poorly developed in terms of functionality. Creating a blog post took hours longer than it ever should because I had to custom code each post to fix this or that issue and after a year or so, I couldn’t take it anymore.
I needed to grow my business, not spend countless hours dealing with a functionally obsolete website… as pretty as it was.
I was heartbroken. I can’t tell you how many people would email me or tell me how much they loved my custom website design. Leaving it (and the investment of hiring developers for it) in the dust really just stunk.
A peek at what my Custom WordPress Website looked like! It became the inspiration for our best selling Leftover Peonies Showit 5 Website Template!
So I turned back to templates with Restored 316. While I love ProPhoto 6, it is much better suited for an informational website. Informational meaning not blog focused. A service-based business typically has a much heavier informational emphasis to their website than a blog-based business.
Since my blog had really started to take off and grow, I needed a template that could give me a lot more flexibility in terms of plugins and tweaks to optimize my blogging process.
And I needed it A S A P.
I love the gals at Restored 316. They have beautiful and functional WordPress templates for both informational and blog focused sites and have a wide array of informational articles to help you quickly get the hang of working with their template under the Genesis Framework.
A peek at what my Restored 316 WordPress Website looked like!
I launched my Restored 316 blog design in mid-2016 and was thrilled to have a WordPress website that actually worked with me and not against me.
So why did I need a new website this year?
Well, while WordPress is king for SEO and even with the Restored 316 template that I loved, my needs continued to grow as my business completely evolved this past year.
If you’ve followed along with my journey, you probably know that I took quite a bit of time off in 2016. 2016 was the year that I let go of both my wedding planning and brand designing services for both personal reasons and to focus on my family.
When I launched my Restored 316 website, I was solely blogging in my business.
Since that time, I launched my first digital shop.
Running a digital product based business is NOTHING like running a service-based business. They are completely different. Two totally different ball games.
Passive income isn’t actually passive my friend. It takes a whole lot of work and grit and gumption to be in the “passive” game.
My experience in the service based world has definitely given me perspective, but since I launched the shop in November of 2016, I have basically been learning about and growing an entirely new business (even though my brand name didn’t change!).
With that evolution and growth, I have learned that what I need is a true blend of an informational site and a blog focused site. I needed to be able to build out very in-depth and helpful informational pages (like my Resources Page), have a high functioning blog, and be able to create completely custom landing and sales pages to effectively grow my digital product line and email marketing strategy.
While there are a whole slew of tools I could share with you that could accomplish all the things I needed, I like simplicity. I don’t want to manage 305874598 different tools, softwares, and platforms if there is an option for me to do it all under one roof.
So even though I really did love my template on WordPress, I knew I needed something a little more heavy duty.
And I wanted to be able to have complete control over the end product. Aka I didn’t want to go back to the nightmare of relying on a developer to do the job right.
But I also didn’t want to lose ALL the traction I had built from the previous years by going to a DIY website building platform just because I wanted a pretty site.
Enter Showit 5. And the 5 reasons I made the leap to become a Showiteer.
I was extremely skeptical of Showit 5 at first, but I am fully convinced now that it is the best of all the worlds and needs I have for an online space.
The number one reason I decided to take the leap was because I wasn’t fully leaving WordPress behind for a DIY site builder.
With Showit 5, I could have the user-friendly power of a DIY site builder AND a powerhouse blog with a fully integrated WordPress site in one. All housed under the same exact domain.
You can design your blog to your heart’s content in Showit’s easy design interface and they automatically push your design to your WordPress blog. It is legit magic. Like the wizarding world of Harry Potter magic. I have no idea how it functionally works, but it does and it makes me a very happy business owner to have the benefits of a WordPress blog within my Showit 5 website.
With Showit 5, you can create a completely custom website design without ever looking at a line of code. Seriously, magical. I chose to start with a free template to get my bearings in the design interface, but my site has since completely morphed into its own unique look. And I never once had to look at the coding.
While Showit 5 can easily be used for even a novice designer (or literally the NON-designer ha!), if you have any experience with Adobe Illustrator or the graphic design side of Photoshop, getting the hang of working in Showit 5 will be a total breeze.
I was nervous about the amount of time it was going to take me to learn the ropes (again I had other things to do, ha!), but by starting with a template, I was able to quickly figure it all out well within Showit’s free trial period.
Once I got a taste of just how much I could do in terms of responsive design with Showit 5 plus the added bonus of an integrated WordPress blog, I was completely convinced that I wouldn’t be turning back anytime soon. (2019 update here – I am still in LOVE! And now use the Showit Platform for my website templates! My customers rave about it and how easy it is to use!)
What my site looked like in 2016 with Showit 5!
Showit’s big feature +Site functionality is what actually made me take a closer look into the website builder in the first place. If you remember back to my needs as my business was evolving, you might have caught the term “landing pages.”
A landing page is simply a page where a viewer can “land” on. But a landing page isn’t equal to a static page (aka a page that isn’t constantly changing or updating like your blog) on your website like your About Page. Pages like your about page, contact page, investment page and etc all fall into that informational based page design.
And traditionally static pages live within your main site. They are literally called interior pages, meaning the design of your site doesn’t change when you visit them. So you will typically see the same header (where your logo and site navigation lives) and the same footer (that section at the bottom of your site with your copyright information and such) that you would see on your website’s homepage.
In the online world of marketing and advertising, a landing page is more often referred to as a stand-alone web page that is meant to look completely different from your main site design. The reason you would want a page like this is for when you want your viewer to take a very specific action, like sign up for your email newsletter or download a guide.
The less distraction you have on a landing page, the better.
Landing pages are made to convert your viewer and complete one important task, so you typically don’t want them to see your site’s main navigation or social icons or fancy footer or any other thing that would distract them to click away from the page and miss completing the main mission of the page.
With my previous WordPress template, I would, in essence, have to custom code an entirely new page every time I needed to build a landing page. And these days I create a new landing page almost weekly. #nope
Like I said before, there are some great user-friendly third-party tools (and even WordPress themes you can buy) you can implement to accomplish this goal, but since I needed to have the capability to easily create in-depth interior informational pages in my main site design AND the capability to easily create landing pages, I wanted a solution that would take care of both needs under one roof.
And Showit 5 does that with it’s no code needed design interface and +Site feature.
With +Sites, you can create an unlimited amount of websites and web pages under the roof of your account.
It is hands down my favorite feature.
I’ve created both websites and landing pages within my Showit account. Every guide we put out uses a +Site that I can easily copy and paste to save time.
Worth every penny!
One of the arguments against Showit 5 (or any other membership based website builder) is that you don’t own the keys to your website. You stop paying for Showit, you lose your site and all that work.
The age-old lease vs owning debate.
I know it well because I was on the ownership side of the debate for a very long time.
Would I rather pay $199 for a one and done WordPress template that accomplishes some of my same needs over a never-ending monthly fee?
But after 6 years of being online and five websites in, I’ve decided that it doesn’t matter whether you own or lease your website. Even if you run your own site, you will still have to regularly update it to keep up with the times as technology and your needs evolve. And unless you are an expert designer and developer you’ll probably have to pay someone to help you make those changes happen. And even if you aren’t an expert and you use a theme, unless that theme comes with lifetime customer support, you will inevitably run into issues where you will need to hire help.
And help isn’t cheap. For good reason. It takes a lot of time, dedication, experience, and knowledge to be a designer or developer.
One way or another I’ll pay the bill. Whether in smaller monthly payments or every year with a big fat check, I’m going to end up paying for it. I know because I’ve done it.
You may have a different opinion on the matter, but I would much rather have a support team at my fingertips all year long over a limited time of support for a smaller bill or a once a year freelance project on my site.
When I had a WordPress site, I had a dedicated assistant on my team whose sole job was to run routine backups on my site, keep everything up to date, and be there when I needed her to fix issues as they arose (like the time I got hacked!). I can tell you that I paid her much more than the $39 a month fee I pay for Showit 5 now.
Customer support is included with my monthly Showit 5 membership as long as my membership is active. And they are very helpful in answering both the big and little questions. That is gold to me!
(Captured by Sarahdipity Photos)
Showit calls their members Showiteers. And the Showiteer Community is strong, tight-knit, and helpful.
The community was the icing on the cake for me when making the decision to switch from my WordPress website, but since becoming a member in August, I’ve seen the real benefit of the community much clearer.
Along with the support team, having an entire community of people to reach out to for advice, inspiration, help, and connection has been an awesome addition to my website experience! Many creative industry peers (and educators that you probably follow!) are Showiteers. Being a part of a community with them in Showit is a great way to build relationships. All while having a beautiful and fully functional website. 😉
I’m proud to be a Showiteer!
Are you a Showiteer? Let’s be pals! Comment with your website so I can see your pretty digs!
On to business. With 7 years experience in biz running a digital download shop, speaking at conferences, collaborating with dream brands, & booking 5 figure custom design clients, I share all that I've learned (and what I continue to learn!) about building a magnetic brand, effective marketing, and the science of conversion.
I promise to keep it real and relevant around here to help you make it happen... over a 4 count chicken mini meal. ;)
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