For dog walkers, creating a fabulous website is an essential part of running a successful dog walker business. After all, your website is your opportunity to tell your story, create your brand, and create trust between you and potential customers. Your website is the place where you can share your pet care philosophy, show that you have dog walking insurance, and share testimonials from happy clients.
Unfortunately, creating a website isn’t always as easy as some people make it sound. Well, maybe just creating the website is easy, but it’s harder to make it a website that successfully attracts your audience and engages new clients.
So to help out dog walkers building their business, PCI has made a guide for dog walkers creating or revising a website. We hope this helps you all feel confident in your digital identity.
Remember to Put Function First
One of the biggest mistakes dog walkers make when creating a website is focusing on aesthetics rather than on function. Remember that your website is first and foremost a guide that helps clients find information about you. A website is meant to tell a story. A 2012 study showed that 50% of online consumers do not purchase a product or a service because a website fails to guide them to the information they need.
Each page leads your audience to the next page, so as you create your site, you have to constantly be asking, “What purpose does this image, or this link, or this paragraph serve, and where does it lead to next?” If the answer is none and nowhere, it would probably be wise to take that image or link or paragraph out.
Make Sure Your Website is Responsive to Mobile Devices
Making a website responsive to mobile devices means that your website functions well on smartphones and tablets. There are two reasons it is absolutely essential for a chef’s website to be responsive to mobile devices. First of all, people access the internet through their phones and their tablets just as often as they sit down at a desktop computer to surf the web. If your website is not designed to change its appearance to fit these mobile devices, you will be missing out on a lot of potential viewers, and you’ll miss the opportunity to impress your audience.
It is essential that small businesses not lose this business because consumers searching for a business on their mobile device are usually serious and motivated potential clients. According to a study by Google mobile movement, 88% of consumers who search for a type of local business (like a dog walking business) on their phone or tablet will call or go to the local business that they find within 24 hours.
The second reason is that Google is changing the algorithm that decides what websites get first billing in a Google search to favor websites that are responsive on mobile devices.
If you aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of developing a responsive website, that’s absolutely okay. You should be able to find a template and software (like WordPress) that will take care of this for you. Just be sure to keep this in mind when choosing or creating a template for your site. Be sure to test how your site looks on as many devices as possible.
Get Inspired by the Websites of Other Dog Walking Services
You don’t want your website to look like everyone else’s website, but you also shouldn’t deny yourself the opportunity to learn from other people.
Beware of Free Website Services
It shouldn’t be very expensive to have a simple and productive website, but beware of which services you choose to build your website. It is possible to get a free domain, that will be branded by the service you use (like WordPress or BlogSpot). Purchasing a domain name all of your own will help you show off your professionalism.
Try Building a Custom Site
To create a custom website, the first thing you will need is the software to build the site. Consider using WordPress software to build a custom site. This is different from having a WordPress blog. The WordPress software can be downloaded at wordpress.org.
If you will be using WordPress software to build your own website, you will need to choose a domain and a hosting service. Often your hosting service will provide a free domain, so look for that perk when you are shopping for a host. Wiredcanvas offers these four tips when choosing a hosting service:
- Don’t just choose the cheapest hosting service.
- Consider the uptime statement what the hosting service you are considering. (This is how much time the service is functional and available.)
- Choose a service that offers customer support.
- Choose a Linux package. It is more functional with WordPress.
If these tips make creating a website sound difficult and intimidating, don’t be scared off. In the end, creating a custom website can let you tell your story to an audience across the country and the world, so don’t give up. It’s worth it.
There’s Also No Shame in Using a Template
You may want to choose a WordPress template. One of these works particularly well for artists. There are also programs that are similar to WordPress like that may be something to look into. You can learn more about those here.
Focus On Professionalism Above All
Professionalism is always important when building a business, but it is even more essential for independent entrepreneurs like dog walkers. After all, you are trying to convince potential clients that you are the person to trust to enter their home and care for their pet. Trust is essential for dog walkers because the reason that dog walking services have maintained growth even in the recession is that more and more dog owners are considering their dogs a member of their family.
Here are a few tips for making your dog walking business website look especially professional:
- Make sure it is responsive to mobile devices.
- Use sans serif fonts.
- Purchase your own domain.
- Keep it simple.
- Include your logo, and your contact information.
- Use big, high quality images
Once You’ve Built It, Promote It
Once you have a website filled with stunning images, promote your brand on social media. The sad truth is that Facebook is making it more and more difficult for business owners to rely on organic reach to reach customers. The good news is that boosting a post doesn’t have to break the bank. Even putting just $10 behind a post can help you reach over a thousand people on Facebook.
Having a strong social media presence is worth it, especially for small businesses—a study in 2011 shows that 69% of consumers are more likely to purchase services from a small, local business if that business has effective social media channels.
You might also consider contacting local veterinarians and pet care businesses that you admire to ask them to link to your website and offer you as a resource to their clients.
Be sure to install the Facebook and Pinterest plugins on your website, so that visitors can share your website easily on social media. After all, that’s free promotion.