Where do your prospective learners go to get details about you and your business? Where can they find strong evidence of the value you offer? Where will they return over time to find new offerings and continue their relationship with you?
For most of us, the answer is – or should be – our main Website, or home base Website, as I refer to it in Leading the Learning Revolution.
Yes, it may be desirable to have a dedicated platform for managing and delivering your online courses, but most of these platforms don’t really have the flexibility to serve as the focal point of your online presence. And you definitely need a strong, evolving online presence if you are going to be a successful learning entrepreneur over the long haul.
This topic has been top of mind for me lately because one of the projects I’ve undertake is to refresh and revamp my various Web sites. (Yes, I actually have multiple sites that serve as “home bases” for different lines of business.)
Here are 3 key aspects of how I manage my Web sites.
WordPress as Foundation
First, I stick with WordPress. Time-tested, used by millions, plenty of these and plug-ins, huge numbers of freelancers who can help you with every aspect of it – it’s just hard to see why to use anything else these days.
And, of course, WordPress is open source, so the code for it is free. You can grab it at WordPress.org, or just about any decent Web hosting company is going to have an option for you to install it on your account. (More on hosting below.)
Second, I use WordPress themes – i.e., the part that control most of how your site looks for visitors – that I know will not slow the site down (Google cares about this more and more) and that I know are search engine friendly.
I put particular emphasis on this second point – i.e., SEO friendly. While there are all sorts of pretty themes out there, many of them are programmed in ways that can hurt search engine optimization (SEO). For piece of mind, I stick with StudioPress themes. They are fast, SEO-friendly, and they can be tweaked to do pretty much whatever you want.
I use the Mai Law theme for Learning Revolution, the Magazine Pro theme for my Leading Learning podcast site, and the Author Pro theme on my personal site. (Actually, what I really have is the all-theme package, so I can get access to whichever theme makes sense for each of my sites.)
Top Notch Hosting
Finally, I take hosting seriously. Yes, you can go for the GoDaddy or BlueHost cheap hosting, but I have used both – and others – and found them highly questionable in terms of performance, reliability, usability, support, and other factors.
My preferred hosting provider is WP Engine, a high performance WordPress host I started using a few years ago and now use for all my sites. They provide outstanding support and rock solid performance. While a bit pricier, this is really the kind of hosting you want if you are serious about running an online business.
Summer 2018 Update: WPEngine has acquired StudioPress from Rainmaker, so now my favorite theme and hosting options are under one roof.
Bottom line, it’s worth taking stock in what you are doing with your home base Web site – regardless of whatever course delivery platform you are using or considering – and taking some steps to up you game.