5 brand-killing mistakes that make you look cheap
If you are a coach, consultant, or professional speaker then you know how important it is to appear professional. The way you position yourself will determine if you attract those high-value clients you are looking for. Try to avoid these brand-killing mistakes.
Running a business takes a lot of work and there is so much to constantly do. Unfortunately, I see entrepreneurs repeatedly making the same mistakes that weaken their online presence and make them look, well … cheap.
And a cheap image does not attract high-value clients. (or many clients at all)
It doesn’t have to be this way. You can easily uplevel your professional image with just a few tweaks.
Brand-killing mistake #1 – You don’t own your own website domain name
You likely do not own a domain name because you are using a free service. Don’t do this.
Your website should be <yourbusinessname>.com. The part to the left of the .com is supposed to be YOUR business name, not a subdomain of someone else’s.
Here 2 examples: <yourbusinessname>.wordpress.com or <yourbusinessname>.wix.com
If you are using a free service, you are promoting that business by not being able to remove their name from your email address or website.
You can purchase a domain name for as little as $20 a year through a domain registrar or through your hosting provider. Just make sure the domain name is available or look for alternatives if it is not. You can have your own domain in just a few minutes.
Brand-killing mistake #2 – You are using a free email address
This is the #1 mistake that makes you look like an amateur. I constantly see it on business cards and on websites as well.
Stop using <yourbusinessname>@gmail.com (or yahoo.com, aol.com, etc)
If you are just starting out, using a free email address is the fastest way to separate your business email from your personal email. And this is a smart move. However, as you move closer towards your launch date and start generating leads, you’ll want to set up an email address with a domain name that you’ve purchased.
If you are in business, a free email address cheapens your image because it’s very easy to get. It also suggests that your business is not legitimate or that your business is not yet established.
You need an email address on your own domain: <you>@<yourbusiness>.com
Luckily, you can set up an email address with your own domain. Although many hosting companies offer email setup, I prefer GSuite for business. For $5 a month, you can connect your domain to Google and use Gmail the way you normally do. The experience is exactly the same.
Brand-killing mistake #3 – Your business name is not professional
I might lose some of you here so I’ll proceed with caution.
At first, I had some trepidation about naming my business Foolishly Creative because of the negative connotations around the word ‘foolish’. Sometimes I still need to explain my business name to those that don’t understand, but the overall reception has been positive.
With that said, you need to consider your ideal client and think about if your business name (and your domain name) is appropriate for that audience.
One of my pet peeves are names that substitute ‘s’ with ‘z’. Unless you are targeting teenagers or young adults, I’d advise you not to pluralize anything with a ‘z’. Not only will you lose favor with an older market, but you’ll constantly need to explain how to spell it. (and increase the likeliness that it will be spelled wrong)
Also, I would caution against using hyphens and dashes in your domain name. Most people will not remember to include them. If that domain already exists, you will drive traffic to someone else’s website. (which is not what you intend to do)
If you can’t get the domain you want, come up with sensible variations, or consider using your own name + whatever services you provide (i.e. annsmithcoaching.com/)
Brand-killing mistake #4 – Your photos are bad
A good design cannot make up for poor quality images. If your images aren’t good, your website won’t look good. You may be able to get away with your cell phone photos, but this should be a temporary solution.
I encourage all of my clients to use a professional photographer. The photographer will make sure you are properly lighted and will coach you on movement and posing. You can also hire a hair and makeup artist.
If you are just starting out, check out deals on Groupon. Depending on your city, you can get some photos for under $100. I was able to get 4 headshots in NYC for about $75 (that I still use today)
Also, reconsider your use of stock photography. Stock photography is fine to use on blog posts, but you don’t want to use stock photography of other people on your homepage or on your about page.
Depending on the photo’s placement, I encourage you to buy the photo. Paying for the photo decreases the likelihood that an image is widely used everywhere else. I use a combination of paid and free stock photos (I limit free photos to my blog posts only)
Need a resource for getting photos >> Here you go!
Brand-killing mistake #5 – You make it all about you
You are your brand. Or are you really?
It is true that your clients are buying into you rather than your particular service. But only after you’ve identified their problem and that you can solve it better than anyone else.
For example, if you have a website, do you start off by introducing yourself, or do you explain exactly how you help your clients. If it’s the former, you might want to reconsider your message.
There are 7 billion people in this world. You aren’t that special … but you are.
You are special in that you deliver value to your clients and it’s your duty to help them realize that. There are too many distractions online and you need to grab their attention quickly.
Here is a fast way to do this: Load your website. Before scrolling down, does your website explain what you do in plain ‘easy’to-understand’ text? If not, it should.
You should absolutely tell your story, but leave the long story for your “About Page” and remember to make everything centered around the client’s needs.
I hope this list helps. These are 5 big mistakes that can be rectified with small tweaks, so you’ll get your brand back on track in no time.
If you need more help, I have another resource for you. My free Shine Online Workbook contains tips and tricks to make your website resonate with your ideal client and convert visitors into leads!
Kimberly Inez Mays
Online Brand Strategist, Founder
With over 10 years of web design and development experience, I help entrepreneurs build and grow their online brands. I love everything tech and can't wait to help you shine online!
I currently reside in NYC with my 2 selfish cats and I'm addicted to caffeine (which helps with the late night coding).
Fun fact: My initials are K.I.M 🙂
About Foolishly Creative
I help ambitious entrepreneurs create and launch the website and branding designs of their dreams. I help them elevate their visual presence and inspire their dream clients to take action.